Much lettered at Much Wenlock’s Poetry Festival

 

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These letters are knitted (I think I was responsible for the red ‘E’) and here they are adorning the cherry tree on the Church Green. This is the Wenlock Poetry Festival’s ‘Poetree’ (artistic licence rendered photo-wise) and, during this now annual April event,  everyone may compose, or write verses from their favourite poem on a luggage tag and hang it on the tree for others to read.

This year the tree has joined in the general creativity by bursting into bloom. In previous years it has been quite bare.

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The festival embraces the entire town, using venues at Wenlock Pottery, Methodist Church, the George and Dragon Pub, Tea on the Square Cafe, and The Edge Arts Centre. Besides the three-day programme of readings, talks and workshops with top British poets, there are verses to be found all over the place. Nearly all the shop windows host one, and they include works by local amateurs as well as the more famous.

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And then there are the ten Dada Poetry Orienteering spinners (including 2 mystery ones) sited about the town. They comprise phrases culled from printed matter – from the Declaration of Human Rights to a tea wrapper. Visit some or all and, with random spins of the pointer, create an on-the-spot composition.

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And when inspiration needs a further boost, then there are refreshments on hand, not only at the Poetry Café in the Priory Hall, but at the town’s ancient inns, and traditional tea rooms.

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And here we come to the heart of the festival, the town’s famously much loved independent book shop, Wenlock Books. Its owner, Anna Dreda, has been the primary driving force behind the festival, enticing, Carol Ann Duffy, Britain’s Poet Laureate, to be the festival’s founding patron. The festival is now in its fifth year, and involves the efforts of many dedicated volunteers who put in many months of work to ensure its continuing success.

And so for a small town of less than 3,000 people, we are astonishingly well-lettered, and much of this is down to Anna, who throughout the year (and quite apart from the poetry festival) lures young and old into her lovely shop to take part in reading groups, listen to stories being read, or chat with authors. Coffee and biscuits are ever on offer, and sometimes even a Tea and Toast Breakfast. Last year, too, Anna was invited to meet the Queen during a celebration of British contemporary poetry.

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Anna Dreda.

Anna Dreda of Wenlock Books

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Sadly, you have just missed this year’s festival, but now that you’ve glimpsed a little of what’s on offer in Much Wenlock, check out the festival website below and make a date for next April. But before you leave, a few more views of lettered Wenlock:

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See you at the sixth Wenlock Poetry Festival 2015

 

Related:

Wenlock Poetry Festival

Wenlock Books

 

Go to Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge for more LETTERS

27 thoughts on “Much lettered at Much Wenlock’s Poetry Festival

  1. A great review of the festival, finally getting time to blog mine – I haven’t had a chance to upload my shots yet, so I hope you don’t mind – with full credit and they are watermarked already I have borrowed a few town shots from here. In return I’ve followed your blog and will also link this post to related articles at the bottom of mine. It was a great event and your post brings it all alive again! Thank you 🙂

  2. Thank you Tish, and thank you Jo for leading me to this wonderful post. You make me want to visit Much Wenlock, poetry festival or not.

    I’m planning a poetry barbecue to celebrate my 70th birthday later in the year, and this festival gives me some good ideas. Thanks again!

  3. Missed it again this year due to other travels, but I really must come and spend more time browsing in Wenlock, it does look lovely and I still haven’t been to the Priory! The Poetree is an amazing idea. Does anyone catalogue what people hang there?

    1. Glad at least you did the virtual visit. I know the tree poems are collected, but I don’t know it they are catalogued. It could be something like fridge magnets couldn’t it – all stranded to together each year.

  4. Hi Tish, thanks for sharing your photos and story of this fantastic-sounding festival. I am so awed by the way small towns and villages can build and sustain such a strong sense of community – and have great fun at the same time. I love the idea of the poetree – reminds me of the wish tree we had for the boy-child’s naming day, and I’m so going to pinch the spinner idea for something. It’s jus too good not to. Hope you had a wonderful time; might have to come and join in sometime. 🙂

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