Bristol Poetry Festival 2015

Sponsored by The University of the West of England

21st September to 8th October

Scroll down to browse the festival events or use the calendar below to find out about specific events.

Mon 21st Sept Tues 22nd Sept Wed 23rd Sept Thur 24th Sept Fri 25th Sept Sat 26th Sept Sun 27th Sept
The Spoke @ Spike     Raise the Bar Festival Open Poetry Slam Twenty Poets Perform  
Milk       Open Mic A Beautiful Trick of the Light  
Mon 28th Sept Tues 29th Sept Wed 30 Sept Thur 1st Oct Fri 2nd Oct Sat 3rd oct Sun 4th Oct

Hailing Foxes

Map of Me Street Wise Can Openers Hope n Mic  

Berkeley Square Poetry Revue

Bristol Dead Poets Slam Les Murray Open Mic    
Mon 5th Oct Tues 6th Oct Wed 7th Oct Thur 8th Oct Fri 9th Oct Sat 10th Oct Sun 11th Oct
    Hammer & Tongue Poetry Films      
    Page and Performance National Poetry Day      



The Spoke @ Spike with Bachup

Mon 21st September  8pm (doors 7.15pm)

Spike Island Cafe-Bar, 133 Cumberland Road, Bristol, BS1 6UX

Tickets: (£2 on the door)

Paul Deaton    Lizzie Parker    Claire Williamson    Bob Walton     

The Spoke are back bringing a selection of their latest and finest poetry.

Paul Deaton, Lizzie Parker, Claire Williamson and Bob Walton present an evening of celebration and elegy, constellations and energy: of people and places, landscape and lovers, myths and meanings, in four distinct, memorable voices. They will be joined by virtuoso violinist John Pearce, with passionate solo performances of Bach and other classics.

It all takes place in the cool ambience of the Spike Island Cafe at Bristol's international centre for contemporary art.




Mon 21st September   8pm

Halo Cafe/bar, 141 Gloucester Rd, Bristol, BS7 8BA

Tickets: £5 / slammers FREE (pay on the door)

Sally Jenkinson       Laurie Bolger


Featuring Sally Jenkinson and Laurie Bolger plus a set from the previous slam winner and an open slam voted for by the whole audience.
Hosted by Sam Boarer
For further info and to apply to be in the slam email:



Raise the Barup

Thur 23rd September  8.00pm (doors 7.30pm)

Balloon Bar, Richmond Building, 105 Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1LN

Tickets: £2

Mark Grist        Miko Berry

Raise the Bar brings together students, non-students, and local writers of all ages, backgrounds and lyrical styles to provide a platform for artists to showcase and perform their work, as well as providing the very best entertainment for poetry fans. They are hugely invested in talent development and offer an open mic each month, which you can sign up for on a first come first serve basis by emailing

This months feature guests are:

Having left his job as a teacher to venture into a career in poetry, Mark Grist (the Poet Laureate of Peterborough at the time) made a name for himself in the UK Spoken Word scene which included accolades such as winning the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Slam Champion.
In late 2011, everything changed as Grist’s Don’t Flop rap battle against Blizzard became the first in UK history to reach 1 million YouTube views (now close to 5 million views), and his rise to prominence continued as his spoken word short film ‘Girls Who Read’ also went viral, currently standing at over 3.5 million views.

MiKo is the current European Slam Champion, a former Scottish Slam Champion, and arrived in 4th place at the World Slam Championships! As well as enjoying incredible individual success and acclaim, he is also the founder of the decorated Loud Poets Collective whose innovative shows and performances have revolutionized Scotland’s spoken word scene.
Fresh from performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, MiKo will be bringing his energetic set to Raise the Bar, combining intricate poetic technique with charismatic and passionate performance.

Danny is a spoken word poet from London, currently studying in Bristol, who performs both poetry and rap, aiming to bridge the gap between the two art forms, incorporating elements of both contemporary rap and traditional poetry.
After beginning as a musician and lyricist, Danny became far more interested and invested in the culture of spoken word, acapella poetry, and has since even ventured into battle rap (performing as Craft-D on Don’t Flop) having had three battles and winning each of them. Having set up and founded Raise the Bar a year ago, eight events later he will be performing a short one-off set.



Bristol Poetry Festival Open Poetry Slamup

Fri 25th September    7.30pm

Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol, BS1 4QA

Tickets: £8 / £6 concessions


Advance booking advised

Glenn Carmichael & Claire Williamson

The ever popular Festival Slam returns, bringing more gladiatorial poets vying for the top prize.

Hosted by Glenn Carmichael and Claire Williamson


With poetry slammers from Bristol, the South West and the UK:

Clive Oseman    James Laurie   Robert Garnham   Melanie Branton   


Tim King    James Turrell   Nick Lovell    Sam Boarer


Malika Kigode   Graham Chilcott   Tom Dewey    Bart Breathnach  


Tim Vosper    Hannah Teasdale   Jesse Perrett   Jennifer Haynes


Clive Oseman, James Laurie, Robert Garnham, Melanie Branton, Nick Lovell, Sam Boarer, Tim King, James Turrell, Malaika Kegode, Graham Chilcott, Tom Dewey, Ben Bridgman, Bart Breathnach, Tim Vosper, Chris White, Hannah Teasdale, Jesse Perret and Jennifer Haynes.

£100 Prize – winner takes all!



Arts House Open Micup

Fri 25th September     8.30pm

The Arts House, 108a Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3RU

Tickets: Free

 A poetry-friendly open mic with host Jeremy Toombs.



Twenty Poets Performup

Sat 26th September    Midday

Cafe area, Bristol Central Library, College Green, Bristol

Tickets: Free

A host of Bristol poets reading their work.
Hosted by Mark Sayers



A Beautiful Trick of the Lightup

Sat 26th September     7.30pm

Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol, BS1 4QA

Tickets: £10 / £7 concessions


Advance booking advised

Liz Berry      Kei Miller       Fiona Benson             


If you're a lover of poetry you shouldn't be anywhere else in the world thn the Bristol Poetry Festival on this Saturday night because this is going to be a rare and precious poetry experience. This is not hype, this is THE poetry event of the year.

Liz Berry was born in the Black Country and now lives in Birmingham. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2009, an Arvon-Jerwood Mentorship in 2011 and won the Poetry London competition in 2012. Her pamphlet The Patron Saint of Schoolgirls was published by Tall Lighthouse in 2010. Her poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, been broadcast on BBC Radio and recorded for the Poetry Archive. Liz’s debut collection, Black Country (Chatto & Windus, 2014), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, received a Somerset Maugham Award and won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2014. Black Country was chosen as a book of the year by The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Mail, The Big Issue and The Morning Star.

Kei Miller was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. In 2004 he came to England to study for an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and then a PhD in English Literature at the University of Glasgow.
In 2006, his first collection Kingdom of Empty Bellies (Heaventree Press) was published. His second collection, There Is an Anger That Moves, was published in 2007 by Carcanet Press. 2010 saw the publication of his third collection A Light Song of Light and in 2014 his collection The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion was published for which he was awarded the Forward Prize. In 2014, Miller was also named as one of the 20 "Next Generation Poets", a list compiled every ten years by the Poetry Book Society.

Fiona Benson began keeping a poetry notebook at the age of 17 on hearing that someone she knew wrote poetry - suddenly poetry ‘seemed permissible and possible’. She discovered Seamus Heaney, Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson and says ‘poetry just gradually became the thing I depended on’. Fiona won an Eric Gregory Award in 2006 and a Faber New Poets Award in 2009. Her first full collection, Bright Travellers (Jonathan Cape 2014) shows she is as much drawn to the metaphysical as to the mystical, treating the poem as a kind of secular prayer.



Waterwoven // Rachael Clyne // Hailing Foxesup

Tues 29th September  7.30pm

Bristol Central Library, Library Cafe, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TL

Tickets: £3 (on the door)

The Fountain Poets       Rachel Clyne        Hailing Foxes            

Wells Fountain Poets performing Waterwoven

Wells Fountain Poets are a group of highly talented and entertaining poets who have been meeting in the city of Wells, Somerset for twelve years. Tonight group members Clare Diprose, Jo Waterworth, Ama Bolton, Morag Kiziewicz, Sara Butler and Andrew Henon (kindly stepping in tonight for Ewan McPhearson) perform their extraordinary poetry show Waterwoven.

­Rachael Clyne is an artist and a poet, who lives and works in Glastonbury. Trained at the Bristol Old Vic, Rachael was, for many years a professional actor on both stage and television. She then became involved in work with cancer patients and families, setting up London’s first cancer support centre, now celebrating its 30th anniversary. This work led her to train as a psychotherapist. Rachael is sustained by her creativity as an artist and poet and is also passionate about ecological issues and love of the land. Her published books include her poetry collections: Singing at the Bone Tree and She Who Walks With Stones.

Dru Marland & Friends launch Hailing Foxes
Poet and artist Dru Marland launch's her new book Hailing Foxes, irresistibly illustrated by Dru and containing poems about nature in Bristol, especially its urban wildlife, from poets including: Alan Summers, Stewart Carswell, Liz Brownlee, Pameli Benham, Deborah Harvey,Dominic Fisher, Shirley Wright, John Terry and, of course, Dru.


The Berkeley Square Poetry Revueup

Tues 29th September   8.30pm

The Square Club, 15 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1HB

Tickets: £4 / £2 (on the door)

David Punter   Stephen Parr   Rosie Jackson   Barry Lane

A poetry cabaret featuring David Punter, Stephen Parr (Ananda) and Rosie Jackson with music from Barry Lane



Map of Meup

We regret to announce that this show has been cancelled

Azfa Awad      Rosemary Harris

Half Moon presents Map of Me a Papertale production for 13+ audiences

From baking African deserts to the snow angels of a UK winter, this emotional and heartfelt journey reveals a compelling story of forced migration. Two very different characters find common ground within the poetry of the streets, and the audience becomes the prized confidante on a young girl’s journey, where each step towards security is fraught with danger, prejudice and the unknown.

Map of Me explores how a displaced child finds a sense of self and belonging, in a moving and uplifting show, written from real-life experiences of young asylum seekers. It tells the story of a young girl fleeing war in her homeland as she tries to find safety, identity and a place to belong.

In partnership with Half Moon Theatre and Apples and Snakes South East, Map of Me features prize-winning poets and performers Azfa Awad and Rosemary Harris. It is the third work in the Suitcase Trilogy of spoken word performances about migration for young audiences, developed by Papertale.

“You captured a very emotional and thought-provoking issue and expressed it fantastically.” Audience member, aged 15

“It was really eye-opening and entertaining because it went against stereotypes and showed deeper meaning. Thank you! It was very fabulous.” Audience member, aged 14

“It was very powerful, flowed perfectly. Thank you for allowing me to watch this brilliant performance.” Audience member, aged 14



Bristol Dead Poets Slamup

Weds 30th September    8pm

The Lansdown, 8 Clifton Road, Clifton

Tickets: £5 adv / £6 (on the door)


Lord Byron

A festival favourite since 2009 which comprises of entrants presenting interpretations of their favourite deceased poets. Expect the unexpected.

Hosted by the Bard of Windmill Hill, the show will include a musical interlude and featured guest.




Street Wise: Penelope Shuttle Workshopup

Thurs 1st October    10.00am to 1.00pm

Bristol Central Library, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TL

Tickets: £15 (must be paid in advance)

Booking:  / 0117 933 0900

Penelope Shuttle

The streets where we live, the streets we walk everyday or discover by chance, are a source of fascination and material for many poets. This workshop will examine ways to explore and develop 'the subtext of the street' in your poems and will include written exercises.

12 places only.

You MUST book a place in advance. Bookings will be taken strictly on a first-come, first-served basis. Advance payment will secure your place



Bristol Poetry Institute presents: Les Murrayup

Thurs 1st October   6pm

Great Hall, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Rd, Bristol, BS8 1QE

Tickets: Free (places MUST be booked in advance)


Les Murray 

Les Murray is Australia's leading poet and one of the greatest contemporary poets writing in English. His work has been published in ten languages. Les has won many literary awards, including the Grace Leven Prize (1980 and 1990), the Petrarch Prize (1995), and the prestigious TS Eliot Award (1996). In 1999 he was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry on the recommendation of Ted Hughes. His latest poetry volume ‘Taller When Prone’ was published in 2010 (Black Inc; Carcanet).



Can Openersup

Fri 2nd October    Midday

Steam Cafe/bar, 63 Union ST, Bristol, BS1 2DL

Tickets: Free

Lizzie Parker

A chance to listen to and meet with poets in a relaxed atmosphere.

Open platform for poetry with special guest reader Lizzie Parker.

Come along to listen or share.




Arts House Open Micup

Fri 2nd October     8.30pm

The Arts House, 108a Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3RU

Tickets: Free

 A poetry-friendly open mic with host Jeremy Toombs.



Hope n Mic Poetry Can Fundraiserup

Sat 3rd October        7.30pm

Halo Cafe/bar, 141 Gloucester Rd, Bristol, BS7 8BA

Tickets: £7 / £6 Poetry Can members (on the door)

Robert Garnham       Claire Williamson


Robert Garnham and Claire Williamson

Claire Williamson has published two narrative poetry collections Ride On (POTA Press, 2005) and The Soulwater Pool (Poetry Can, 2008). She has recently been commended in the Poetry Space International Competition 2014 and Bristol Poetry Institute Likenesses Competition 2014. Claire’s recent collaboration with composer Mark Lawrence, Home by Christmas has been nominated for the British Composer Awards 2015. Claire has toured in national shows, The Truth is Optional, Exposed and Words Allowed. She is Programme Leader for Metanoia Institute’s MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes and has won an Arts Council award for her work.

Robert Garnham: Professor of whimsy and consumer of biscuits.

Roberts poetry almost veers into surrealism only to be saved at the last minute by the overwhelming hilarity of everyday life. Multiple slam winner and festival favorite, Robert was once the official second best poet in Swindon. He has performed from London to Edinburgh, Berlin to Wolverhampton and was poet in residence at a paper clip factory. His first collection is forthcoming from Burning Eye Books.

Plus limited open-mic slots. Sign up from 7.30pm


Tombola with literary prizes. Guess the weight of the cake

Produced by Andi Langford-Woods and Hazel Hammond





Sun 4th October    8.30pm

Bristol Fringe Bar,32 Princess Victoria St, Clifton Village, Bristol BS8 4BZ

Tickets: Free

A new open mic for poetry and songs on the first Sunday of the month - innovative and edgy new work especially.

Sign up on the door, arrive early to book a slot.
Hosted by Tim Burroughs



Hammer & Tongue Bristolup

Weds 7th October      8.00pm (doors 7.30pm)

Big Chill Bar (downstairs), 15 Small St, Avon, Bristol BS1 1DE

Tickets: £6 / £5 students and slammers (on the door)

Hammer & Tongue

Open poetry slam with special feature guests (tbc).
Slammers should sign up on the door from 7.30pm. 10 names are pulled from the hat if there are too many signed up. Slammers who miss out one month get automatic entry to the next month. The winner will go through to the city final.

Hosted by Thommie Gillow, Tim Vosper and Rebecca Tantony.

Facebook: Hammer and Tongue Bristol         Twitter @handtbristol




Page and Performanceup

Weds 7th October      8.00pm

The Cross Hands, 1 Staple Hill, Fishponds, Bristol, BS16 5AA

Tickets: Free

An evening of spoken indulgence Open Mic
Hosted by Matt Duggan



National Poetry Day in Millenium Squareup

Thurs 8th October       Various times throughout the day

Millennium Square, Canons Way, Bristol, BS1 5DB

Tickets: Free

National Poetry Day’s theme this year is ‘Light’.
On the big screen in Millennium Square there will be film of local people whose jobs are in some way connected with light, from astronomers to firemen, reading poems whose themes are about light, shown periodically throughout the day.



National Poetry Day at Waterstonesup

Thurs 8th October        11.00am to 4.00pm

Waterstones, 11A Union Galleries, Broadmead, Bristol, BS1 3XD

Tickets: Free

Liz Brownlee

The theme for National Poetry Day 2015 is 'light'.
Liz Brownlee, National Poetry Day Ambassador, will be hanging flags of poems about light on beams of bunting - come and play on the giant magnetic poetry and add your thoughts, lines or poems to the beams, and see how far we can shine them through Waterstones. Famous adult and children’s poets from all over the world have already sent in their light poems to be hung with yours!
Suitable for all ages