Worcestershire Poet Laureate needs YOU and your inspirational women!


Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Nina Lewis, is looking to mark International Women’s Day (March 8th) with a special kind of celebration this year. She’s put out an open call not for poetry, but for inspirational ladies in all forms! Nina is looking for submissions of the following:

  • A poem/poet to read.
  • Female inspirations – and why they inspire you! 
  • Influential women who got you into writing or supported this path for you (personal rather than famous.)
  • Something you have grown wise to in womanhood (that you may have wished you’d known sooner).

So if you have wise words – or indeed, wise women – that you want the world to know about then now is your time to share them! All submissions should be sent to worcspl@gmail.com with the subject heading IWD. Submissions MUST be sent before March 6th, as Nina will need time to read submissions and compile them before the day itself. It’s also worth noting that you can submit anonymously – as long as you make this wish clear in your email.

For a closer look at Nina’s plan you can have a peek at her personal blog by clicking here.


Nina’s WPL blog – December to February

Well here we are, I have just a quarter of my term left as Laureate – where did that time go? Here’s my review of December to February in case you have somehow missed everything!

PS: Don’t miss World Poetry Day 21st March 7 PM start at Café Bliss.


Submissions for Contour – the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Poetry Magazine – opened. This time the theme was Love as I was editing for February release.

A Tale of Two Cities, my Transatlantic poetry project, was launched with 46 poets from the USA and UK. All the poets were partnered up and our ‘Call’ poems were shared.

My poem from the Hanbury Hall Poets project went on display at an Exhibition at the Maltstones in Cutnall Green, with thanks to Stephen Evans for this.


I was a Guest Poet along with Kevin Brooke and Holly Magill at Suz Winspear’s Book Launch, ‘The Awkward People’, her WPL collection was published by Black Pear Press. It was a wonderful event and I have now read the full collection. If you haven’t bought a copy I urge you to do so, you will not regret it! It’s available here.

I shared poetry with Tammy Gooding on BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester.

Poets involved in AToTC started working on ‘Response’ poems with their partners. I became an expert on Salmon!

I started planning World Poetry Day (my official event from WPL remit). It is going to be a lot of fun. I devised the creative elements and booked some of the performers for the evening.

I started preparing school workshops (booked for March) and had some face to face meetings. I am very excited to get back into schools in this role and this is definitely something I want to pursue in the future.


I planned a Suffragette Workshop to coincide with the exhibition at The Hive. The workshop took place on February 10th. There were 12 participants on the day and several additional poets online. Work submitted from this event will appear in an anthology published on the website in April.

I continued editorial work on ATOTC, the deadline for ‘Response’ poems came and went; I am now in proofing stages and the Special Edition Contour is due for release in April.

The 2nd Issue Contour Love was published on the 12th February. This issue is nearly twice the size of the last one and includes interviews with SpeakEasy Featured Artists as well as PL News and of course, poetry. There were over 600 readers in 24 hours of release!

All the poets have now been confirmed for World Poetry Day.

flyer wpd wlf

Haiku Raffle tickets have been produced and an open submission call is still currently open (deadline 10th March) for Little Poems, these will be used as part of the Poetry Take Away at the end of the evening and can be previously published. For more details click here.

I had my BBC Hereford & Worcester Radio Interview with Tammy Gooding and this month it was a slightly extended recording due to us discussing love poetry and the work of Pablo Neruda! It was fun and I shared the love poem recently published in Contour.

I met with Carolyn Baldwin at the Jinney Ring to finalise our plans for an exhibition of poetry produced in my Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop back in September. I am delighted to announce our work will be on display in the restaurant for the whole of April. So treat yourself to tea, cake and poetry!

Promoting the Poet Laureate competition is something I have been involved in for the past month or so, it is really painful because it makes me feel like this is over, when in reality I am just ¾ of the way through my term. I look forward to discovering who the next WPL will be though.

Jess Charles at Worcester News asked me for some words about it and used my copy to produce an article, which you can read here. If you are thinking of entering the competition, you have until 30th March. Do it!

Other Work


At the end of November I was invited to be an International Guest Poet at Perth Poetry Festival, I spent a lot of December researching Grant opportunities and jumping around in a very excited manner!

WMRN Reader in Residence at Rugby Library. I had fun compiling a 12 month Reading Challenge List for 2018.

Interview for Brum Radio Poets with Rick Sanders, including readings from Fragile Houses, V. Press.

Came 2nd in the Haiku Poetry Slam at Grizzly Pear (Birmingham) and won workshop tickets for Verve Poetry Festival.

V. Press were nominated for the Michael Marks Publishers’ Award. The pamphlets that V. Press had in for this year are: Alex Reed’s A Career in Accompaniment, Nina Lewis’ Fragile Houses, David Clarke’s Scare Stories and Stephen Daniels’ Tell Mistakes I Love Them.


I performed poems in Songs of Apollo – Poetry is Life: Colour, Light & Shade, devised by Cordula Kempe. A night of poetry and music at Kempe Studio, Stratford-upon-Avon, with RSC & NT actors and Angela France.

I performed at the Wolverhampton Literature Festival as part of the WoLF Collective, sharing poems from Fragile Houses.


WMRN Rugby Library Writing a Book Review Workshop, Reader in Residence.

Verve Poetry Festival (15-18th) Birmingham Waterstones, I was the official blogger this year and my reviews can be read just here.

Stay tuned for my next update in the coming months and, if you don’t want to wait that long to see what I’ve been up to, you can always have a look at my WPL blog!

Festival Applications for LitFest 2018!

It’s about that time of year again when Worcester LitFest and Fringe usually throws the figurative doors open wide for festival applications. While this has been our practice in previous years, we’re delighted and saddened in equal measure to announce that 2018 will see a change or two to our festival programme – and, indeed, the application process.

After years of listening to our wonderful audiences, we have decided to scale down events for 2018, instead opting for a festival programme made up of in-house events, many of which will be manned by our trusty committee members and directors. Due to this, we will NOT be opening the doors for festival applications this year. Whether this will change again in the future, we don’t yet know ourselves, but for this year at least LitFest are trying something different, and we sincerely hope that you’ll support the change.

To those who have already contacted us about applications, we kindly thank you for your interest and ask that you stay tuned for future opportunities to work with us.

For now though, sit back, and stay tuned for our 2018 programme…

To Polly – time to say goodbye, and thank you!

It is with a hint of sadness and a flutter of excitement that we make this announcement, but the LitFest and Fringe team feel that now is the time to make this official.

At the end of last year Polly Stretton, one of three festival Directors, long-time committee member, and always-friend, decided it was time to leave LitFest. Other opportunities were made available to Polly and, after a long stint with the festival team, she rightly decided that now was the time to grasp those opportunities and run with them!

Polly has worked tirelessly with us over the years. She has devoted time, energy, and patience to the festival – and the committee members – and she has always provided guidance and support. We will miss her influence – already miss her, in fact – terribly, but she remains a festival friend and always will be.

To Polly: We thank you dearly, for everything, and we wish you all good things with whatever doors open next.

The exciting part of this change, of course, is that we now make room for a new Director. After much discussion between committee members and remaining Directors alike, we are pleased to announce that Charley Barnes will be taking over as one of three festival Directors, effective from now.

Charley is delighted – and a wee bit scared, given the size of the shoes left to fill – to be taking on this role, and she is excited to see what her first festival as a Director will bring with it.

Stay tuned to see what happens next…


Former Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear, plans for launch of new poetry collection!


Worcestershire’s former Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear, is preparing to launch her  full length poetry collection this month and she wants YOU to help her celebrate the occasion.

On January 14th – this Sunday – Suz and friends will be at Drummonds, in Worcester City Centre, to mark the launch of the no-doubt glorious, The Awkward People. Doors will open at 3:30pm for a prompt 4:00pm start and, over the course of the afternoon, you will have the chance to hear Suz read a number of pieces published within the collection, alongside readings from fellow poets and performers invited by Suz herself.

It will be a wonderful occasion and Suz – indeed, the whole LitFest and Fringe team – would be delighted if you could come on down and celebrate with us. There will be poetry, there will be books for sale, and there will be Suz in all of her Gothic glory, ready to entertain. So mark this Sunday on your calendars and get on down to Drummonds for something special to start your poetry year.

Celebrate Poetry with Worcestershire Poet Laureate!


Nina Lewis, Worcestershire Poet Laureate, is celebrating the new year in style by putting together a list of your – yes, it’s all down to you! – favourite poems, ever!

The completed list will appear in the next issue of Nina’s online publication, Contour, and you have a good few weeks still to think this over because the deadline isn’t until February 5th.

So, got a poem that you always come back to? Know a verse that doesn’t get enough attention? Pop over to Nina’s PL website by clicking here, where you can find all the information you need on how to get involved.

Happy New Year – from Worcester LitFest and Fringe!

The Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe team would like to wish you a very happy and successful 2018!

2017 was a good year for us. We ran – and enjoyed every second of – our annual festival and on a monthly basis we enjoyed the delights of SpeakEasy, our open mic event that takes place at Cafe Bliss on the second Thursday of every month. We made new friends, and said goodbye to some old ones, but above all else, we planned for the festival’s future. With the new year bringing with it a new burst of determination, we’re already making plans for June’s festival week and we’ll be releasing official details in the coming weeks and months.

For now, the whole team would like to thank you – yes, you, you fabulous thing – from the bottoms of our hearts for the support, encouragement, sponsorship – and for turning up to things! We have wonderful performers and audience members at everything we do, and we want to take this moment to express our thanks and appreciation for that. We’re lucky to have you all, and we know it.

We’ll be kicking things of for the year with SpeakEasy next week (January 11th) where the lovely Claire Walker will be our featured act for the evening, so do pop on down to Cafe Bliss for a new year drink and some lovely words – we’ll be waiting!