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!

Nina’s WPL Blog – November/December 2017

What a fantastic 5 months it has been. I am enjoying being Worcestershire Poet Laureate and still pinch myself some days. What excites me most is discovering secret poets and helping people turn to and return to poetry. I have met new-to-me poets and encouraged them gently into the wonderful world of poetry. These were some of my targets, and I am delighted that they have already been realised…

Poetry Magazine

My last blog post in August mentioned Contour. The first issue was released on 29th October; it launched at the end of INKSPILL, an online writing retreat I run annually over at awritersfountain. You can read a digital copy of Contour now just here.

Let me know as soon as you can if you would like a printed version as a limited run is being ordered. Drop me a line worcspl@gmail.com; cost will depend on the size of the order, it will be around £5 plus P&P.

The next issue is scheduled for February and submission details go live on the WPL blog TODAY (you can have a peek now by clicking here).


I was booked for my first talk as a poet by Evesham Festival of Words for Second Friday Stories; I organised an Open Mic Poetry Event to celebrate the Salt Day Festival in Droitwich Spa; met with Janet King to discuss the European Twin Town Poetry Project – we are currently gathering poets based in Germany; headlined SpeakEasy and Permission to Speak; and wrote poems for The Unremembered of WW1, a Living Memory Project published by Black Pear Press.

I facilitated the Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop at the Jinney Ring (18th September) and poets gave positive feedback on the experience. Since the workshop I’ve compiled 16 poems for an exhibition in the Restaurant at the Jinney Ring Craft Centre and am meeting with Carolyn Baldwin (Events Manager) in the New Year to finalise plans. We hope for an Easter time exhibition.

To celebrate National Poetry Day (28th September) I compiled the 2nd WPL anthology, on the theme of Freedom, which you can find details of just here.

National-Poetry-Day-News-Piece-Image (1) edinburgh city of literature

Later on in the month I received a commission from Liz Johnson (Composer) to write for Credo, Creative Synenergy and perform on the 29th September at Elmslie House, Malvern. This was a fabulous project to be part of. Liz had collaborated with Visual Artist Dora Williams to create Credo, and the evening event celebrated the launch of the exhibition. My poem ‘Terra Firma’, based on one of Dora’s abstracts, was exhibited too. I wrote 7 new poems for this collaboration, and you can click here to read more about that experience.



I compiled a 3rd Anthology, dedicated to Mental Health Awareness poems, for World Mental Health Awareness Day, and submissions for this remain open for the rest of my Laureateship. Details can be found on my blog.

I also performed at the SpeakEasy Special for Mental Health Awareness & Wellbeing event.

Halloween was covered both by the creation of a Poetry Film of your poems and, as a one off, some flash fiction was published alongside poetry on the blog. I also devised a children’s workshop for LITtleFest over at St. John’s Library as part of the WLF Halloween Event on 28th October.

I spent the majority of October working with Hanbury Hall Poets. We wrote ekphrastic writing based on artwork by Droitwich Arts Network. 15 poets visited the Long Gallery over 3 weeks and wrote poems, and over 3000 visitors attended the exhibition.

hanbury hall LG malcolm ross

Polly Stretton won a competition to read at the closing event on 30th October. She and I went and read to the artists, shared their lunch and generally did lots of networking! I met one of my artists, Stephen Evans, and my poem will appear in his next exhibition in December.

A reading of our poems was planned for 14th November at Parks Cafe, Droitwich.


I was a Guest Speaker for Worcester University Creative Writing Society and a week later at the U3A Worcester group.

Rosie Philpott and I collaborated on collecting images of the artwork from DAN for the reading that was scheduled for this month. Rosie created a show of all the Artwork which was displayed as 9 Hanbury Hall poets gathered to read their work. The readers included a first time reader and poets from Gloucestershire. It was a great success and a fantastic example of cross-arts work. It also marked my final event as WPL for 2017; you can click here for more information about this event.

I also worked on a new commission. Peter Sutton asked me to take part in his Elgar Poetry Event (you can find more details of this event just here). I wrote 14 new poems about Elgar and Worcestershire. The event was held at the Elgar School of Music, Worcester; other readers at this event were Lesley Ingram and Michael W. Thomas. Peter cleverly tied our work together in a performance that flowed beautifully and included poetry from Elgar’s contemporaries as well as some facts and memories. It was a superb experience!

poster elgar

I compiled my 4th anthology for Remembrance. I received submissions well into triple figures and had to make lots of hard, editorial decisions. The results are incredibly powerful, though. This collection includes International Poets and you can access it now by clicking here.

I had meeting with the Basement Project, a charity who help young homeless (16-25), for a proposal I offered in July. I have organised 3 community workshops for 2018 between March and April. I am looking forward to this new challenge and promoting the work they do. For more information on what to expect from this work, head over to my blog.

It is amazing how long projects can take in planning stages. I already have several stacked up ready for the New Year!

Other projects and performances include:

September: Performance Birmingham Literature Festival, V. Press

Performance at Free Verse Poetry Book Fair, London V. Press

Worked as WMRN Reader in Residence at Rugby Library (ongoing)

October: V. Formation, Reading at Poetry Swindon Festival V. Press

INKSPILL Online Writing Retreat

November: Verve Poetry & Spoken Word Festival Launch

Adam Speaks, Croome Court.

To find out more about what I have been up to please visit my personal blog, available here.

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe invites YOU to the launch of this year’s Young Writer Anthology!

YW Launch 17

Hardly a week goes by without something exciting happening here at Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe, and this weekend we’re delighted to be launching this year’s Young Writer Anthology, published by Worcester’s own Black Pear Press.

The event will take place this weekend (November 19th) at Titania, Security House, in Worcester. Doors will open at 3:30pm for a 4:00pm start, and the event itself will be made up of readings from the anthology. This is a wonderful opportunity to hear a new wave of writing voices, picked from our very own county – AND you can grab yourselves a copy of the anthology while you’re there.

Excellent readings, light refreshments, and an afternoon of stellar entertainment to break up a gloomy November weekend; this is definitely one for the calendar!

For further information about the launch, or any other LitFest and Fringe events, please email Charley at: secretary@worcslitfest.co.uk.