The Festival Team

John Challis

John Challis is a poet, researcher and teacher living in the North East. His debut collection of poems The Resurrectionists was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2021. Until recently, he was writer-in-residence at the National Trust’s Seaton Delaval Hall, where he produced Hallsong, a series of poems published as a pamphlet and made into a film. He has received a Pushcart Prize, a Northern Writers’ Award, an Authors’ Foundation grant from The Society of Authors, and was highly commended in the 2021 Forward Prizes for Poetry. His work has appeared on BBC Radio 3 & 4, in AmbitThe GuardianPoetry Ireland ReviewPoetry London and elsewhere. He is a Research Associate and Associate Lecturer at Newcastle University, and, with Theresa Muñoz, co-director of the Newcastle Poetry Festival.

Theresa Muñoz

Theresa Muñoz was born in Vancouver, Canada and now lives in Edinburgh. She is Research Associate at the Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts at Newcastle University, where she also teaches Creative Writing and co-directs the Newcastle Poetry Festival. She has published one collection of poetry, Settle, which shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio Scotland and in several international journals including Arc, Canadian Literature, Poetry Review, Southward, The Scores and elsewhere. She has been awarded a British Columbia Arts Council Award, Crichton Foundation Award, a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship and a Muriel Spark Centenary Award. In 2020 she received a Creative Scotland Award to write one of the first poetry sequences on inter-racial couples entitled ‘Mixed Feelings’.

Alice Mullen

Alice Kate Mullen is Manager of the Poetry Book Society. She read English Literature at Durham University and has worked in poetry publishing since 2010, including as Marketing and Events Manager for Carcanet Press, Anvil and PN Review. She previously worked in bookselling and events co-ordinating at Waterstones and Shakespeare & Company, Paris, completed an Arts Council mentorship at Chicago’s Poetry Foundation and was an Assistant Bibliotherapist at Sydney Writers’ Festival. In 2017 she co-founded and curated the inaugural Northern Poetry Symposium at Sage Gateshead with NCLA.

Melanie Birch

Melanie Birch is the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts Administrator and Event Manager and runs the Festival Marquee during the Newcastle Poetry Festival – pop by and say hello!

Peter Hebden

Pete is responsible for filming and recording the festival events, as well as maintaining the festival website.

Advisory Board

Linda Anderson

Linda Anderson recently retired as Professor of English from Newcastle University where she established the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts, the Newcastle Poetry Festival and the Bloodaxe Archive. She is now the Chair of Bloodaxe Books. In 2020, after publishing academic books, including on Elizabeth Bishop, she published her first poetry collection, The Station Before, with Pavilion Poetry. It was shortlisted in 2021 for the Seamus Heaney First Collection prize.

Neil Astley

Neil Astley is the editor of Bloodaxe Books which he founded in 1978. His books include many anthologies, most notably those in the Staying Alive series: Staying Alive (2002), Being Alive (2004), Being Human (2011) and Staying Human (2020), along with three collaborations with Pamela Robertson-Pearce, Soul Food and the DVD-books In Person: 30 Poets and In Person: World Poets. He received an Eric Gregory Award for his poetry, and has published two poetry collections, Darwin Survivor and Biting My Tongue, as well as two novels, The End of My Tether (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award), and The Sheep Who Changed the World. He was given a D.Litt from Newcastle University for his work with Bloodaxe Books in 1995; is a patron and past trustee of Ledbury Poetry Festival; and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018. He lives in the Tarset valley in Northumberland.

Imtiaz Dharker

Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and video film maker, Chancellor of Newcastle University. awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in  2014. Her six collections, all published by Bloodaxe Books, include Over the Moon and the latest, Luck is the Hook. Her poems have featured widely on BBC radio, television, the London Underground, Glasgow billboards and Mumbai buses. She has had eleven solo exhibitions of drawings and also scripts and directs video films, many of them for non-government organisations working in the area of shelter, education and health for women and children in India.