Saturday, 9 July 2022
Tuesday, 14 June 2022
A few days ago Helen Ivory posted this question on Facebook. There was a flurry of responses, none from a festival, nearly all saying they didn’t know the answer.
I wondered about replying as I am one of the three members on the Cheltenham Poetry Festival (CPF) management team, but I decided to write this blog post instead as I can give a longer and more considered reply.
The first thing to say is that this post is my personal take on the question and is limited to one poetry festival.
Considerations in booking poets
We book poets, who will be attractive to our audience or should I say audiences. We have a 10-day event this September in Cheltenham. The audience for this is different from that for the year-round online festival we run. We can be more adventurous with the online festival. But with both in-Cheltenham and online festivals we are looking for poets who can read their poetry in a way that reaches out and engages our audience.
There are other considerations when we book poets. The first is financial and of course is related to ticket sales. We don’t have a large budget and we have to make it balance at the end of the year/festival. It means we can’t book all the poets we would like. Sadly issues such as the size of the fee, costs of travel and accommodation, all play a part.
Does the poet’s work fit with the programme? We want our programme to be diverse, in all sorts of ways, in subject matter, poetry style and form, ethnicity, poet’s age etc. We usually have a minimum of two poets reading per event, do they complement each other, maybe they are dealing with the same theme but in different ways?
So how do we find poets?
Poets are constantly approaching us, far more poets than we have slots. A polite email is the best option, rather than messaging us. Do read any information we have on the website about when and how to apply.
We are also proactive in looking for poets. We read poetry books and magazines, go to poetry events especially online ones. If we find someone who excites us and fits what we are looking for, we may approach them or keep them in mind until we can.
The open mic slots at our online events are really important to us. Open mics is a way of performing at the Festival that is open to everyone, not just for newbies but also established published poets. We do sometimes offer a headline slot to someone, who has come to our attention via the open mc.
So what can you do to get a headline slot?
- Have a published poetry book (not self-published)
- Attend CPF events, it may not be possible to attend the in-Cheltenham Festival, but if you are interested in performing with CPF attend some of our online events
- Learn how to communicate your poetry to an audience (open mics are great for this)
- Take part in online events.
- Talk to your publisher – CPF sometimes has publisher showcases, where a number of poets from one publisher read together.
- By all means send us a polite enquiry email
- Remember we are three volunteers with limited time, running a festival because we love poetry. Poets who give us hassle and/or extra work aren’t likely to be booked, or if booked won’t be booked again.
this post helps. As a fellow poet I know how hard finding readings can be. Good
Cheltenham Poetry Festival website now has a "Take Part" page and a dedicated contact form for poets to join a special mailing list. The page is here https://cheltenhampoetryfestival.co.uk/take-part/
Thursday, 19 May 2022
This book means a lot to me for a number of reasons, not least because my late friend, Hannah, loved it so much. It's her artwork on the cover. We talked about publishing a limited edition of the poem illustrated by her prints, but she died before it could happen.
Sunday, 1 May 2022
Friday, 27 August 2021
I do not find self promotion very easy. In fact I cringe and procrastinate everytime I have to do it. Yes, I'm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the first more so than the others, but it is not enough. And my publishers have a right to expect me to do some book promo, afterall they have invested time and money into making my book a success and so should I (time at least). So about six months ago I decided I would invest in some book promotion.
I turned to Isabelle Kenyon to act as publicist for me, on the recommendation on Anna Saunders. Over 3 months Isabelle got me 7 reviews with more hopefully on the way, a spoken word event, a blog interview, youtube feature, 2 radio appearances and a podcast appearance.
I was delighted with Isabelle's hard work. Of course Isabelle has a great list of contacts, which would take me ages to achieve and then I would need the temerity to approach them. But Isabelle also gave me the confidence to relax and focus on what I was good at - reading at open mics and giving readings.
If you are interested in using Isabelle's services, I recommend them - you can find out about them here: https://isabellekenyonpoetry.wordpress.com/author-services/
For people who are perhaps earlier in their writing journey and are experiencing financial difficulties there are still a few free places on a workshop Isabelle is leading for the Cheltenham Poetry Festival next Tuesday available here https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/cheltenhampoetryfestival/t-axarox
Sunday, 14 March 2021
I thought I'd bring you up-to-date with what I have been doing and what is coming up. In these pandemic days I have been busy performing poems from my collection Owl Unbound online.
The video above of my poem The Gypsies in the Room is one which featured in the Dialect - Supporting Rural Writers Women's Day events
Most recently I read at the Gloucestershire Poetry Society's Crafty Crows alongside the wonderful Adam Horovitz. GPS have now posted a film of the event (shared above) on their Youtube channel. My reading starts at 24.18.
I also took part in Raised Voices, the GPS's International Women's Day event, which they have also posted on their channel. The event featured 16 Gloucestershire poets, including Angela France, Sharon Larkin, Maria Stadnicka, Tish Camp, and Belinda Rimmer. But mostly I have been enjoying reading at Open Mics at a wide variety of poetry events which have taken me to the Netherlands, Scotland, Wales and all places in between.
I was delighted to take part in Damien Donnelly's excellent poetry podcast Eat the Storms
Readings Coming Up
12th May at 7pm at the Evesham Festival of Words I will be reading poems on the theme of Home and Away alongside Anna Saunders and Ben Ray.
16th June at 7.30 at Fenspeak, I will be reading a personal selection of my poems
7th July at 7pm at the Wirral Festival of Firsts I will be reading with Anna Saunders (again) and Simon Griffiths on the theme of The Wild and the Urban.
20th July at 7.30pm at Poetry Teignmouth at the Mill
10th August at 7.30pm at Flight of the Dragonflies
18th October at 7pm at the Gloucester Poetry Festival I will be reading alongside Josephine Lay and Stuart Carswell
And there's more, but I am not yet allowed to go public about them yet!