Saturday 13th

Northern Stage, Stage 2

10.45-11.30 ‘The Venn Diagram of Us’ and Chancellor’s Poetry Prize Winner | Free | In person tickets here

Please join us for this event featuring poems by local youth groups and students. The Young People’s Theatre, working with poets Linda France and David Spittle, extend the Festival theme of ‘Community’ to consider our human place as a symbiotic part of our environment.  This playful reading, entitled ‘The Venn Diagram of Us’ showcases some of their exciting, ecologically aware explorations of the wild and strange inside and out.

We will also hear from the winner of the Chancellor’s Poetry Prize 2023. Inspired by Newcastle’s iconic cityscape, students were asked to write poems under the theme of ‘Bridges’. The prize will be presented by judges Imtiaz Dharker, Chancellor of Newcastle University and Neil Astley, Editor and Managing Director of Bloodaxe Books Ltd.


The Newcastle Poetry Festival is honoured to celebrate Selima Hill’s award of the 2022 King’s Gold Medal for Poetry in this brief online presentation.  Selima Hill is published by Bloodaxe Books and is one of our best loved and critically acclaimed poets. Her archive is held at Newcastle University’s Robinson Library and is open to the public. Book your visit here:

13:30 – 14:30 Carola Luther, Kris Johnson, Matthew Hollis | £7/£5 | In person tickets here | Digital tickets here

This afternoon’s readings present rich meditations on Nature, wildness and the idea of home. Carola Luther was born and brought up in rural South Africa and now lives in West Yorkshire. Her third collection, On the Way to the Jerusalem Farm, was published by Carcanet in 2021 and shortlisted for the 2022 Derek Walcott prize for poetry. Kris Johnson moved from Washington State to the UK in 2007. Ghost River, her first collection, is published by Bloodaxe in 2023. Matthew Hollis is a prizewinning biographer and editor and the author of The Waste Land: A Biography, published by Faber 2022. His second poetry collection, Earth House, is published by Bloodaxe this year.

15:00- 16:00 Tara Bergin and Ahren Warner | £7/£5 | In person tickets here | Digital tickets here

This reading will also feature film and images and provides the opportunity for reflection and discussion about both poets’ work and the relationship between word and image and the use of voice. Tara Bergin was born in Dublin and moved to the UK in 2002. She is now Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. Her third innovative collection, Savage Tales, was published by Carcanet in 2002. Ahren Warner is a filmmaker and photographer as well as a poet. He is Senior Lecturer at Loughborough University. I’m totally killing your vibes, is his fourth collection published by Bloodaxe

16:30-17:30 Royal Society of Literature lecture: Sandeep Parmar introduced by Preti Taneja | £7/£5 | In person tickets here | Digital tickets here

Motherhood, Whiteness and Empathy in Contemporary British Poetry’

This talk will consider how recent poetry stages racialised encounters in which the figure of the white mother is a complex conduit for empathy. Is this empathy meant to be radical? How might it fail? It will ask where and how this particular lyric subject operates across a postcolonial hierarchy as a proxy for the state and the security (or precarity) of its citizens. 

Sandeep Parmar is a poet and essayist and author of a book on the modernist poet Mina Loy, and editions of Hope Mirilees and Nancy Cunard. She is Professor of English at Liverpool University and co-Director (with Deryn Rees-Jones) of the Centre for New and International Writing. Faust (2022) is her third poetry collection from Shearsman. Preti Taneja is Professor of World Literature and Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She is the winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize for her novel, We That Are Young and the Gordon Burn Prize for Aftermath, her mixed genre meditation prompted by the London Bridge terror attack in November 2019.

This event is presented in partnership with the Royal Society of Literature. Sandeep Parmar was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2020.

18:00-19:00 Picador Event: Jake Polley, Maya C. Popa, Sean O’Brien | £7/£5 | In person tickets here

Picador proudly presents a reading by three of their recently published poets, introduced by their new editor, Colette Bryce. Jake Polley won the T.S.Eliot prize for his fourth poetry collection, Jackself  (2016). His fifth collection, Material Properties, is published this year.He is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University. Maya C.Popa published, Wound is the Origin of Wonder, her latest collection, with Norton in 2022 and Picador in 2023. Her pamphlet, Dear Life, was published by Smith/Doorstop in 2022 and shortlisted for the Michael Marks award. Sean O’Brien, novelist, playwright and one of the UK’s foremost poets, published his twelfth collection, Embark, in 2022. He is the winner of multiple awards, including the Forward prize and the T.S.Eliot prizes.

19:30-20:30 Valzhyna Mort and Maura Dooley |£7/£5 | In person tickets here | Digital tickets here

This reading will provide a resonant and thrilling finale to the festival, combining the thoughtful, probing poems of one of the UK’s most significant poets, Maura Dooley, with the fiercely engaged lyricism and world vision of Valzhyna Mort. Maura Dooley has a new collection, Five Fifty-Five, her sixth poetry collection, out from Bloodaxe this year. Her selected poems, Sound Barrier: Poems 1982 -2002, was published by Bloodaxe in 2002. She is also an editor and an anthologist (Making for the Planet Alice, 1997) and is Professor of Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University. Valzhyna Mort born in Minsk, Belarus, now lives in USA where she teaches at Cornell University. Her third collection, Music for the Dead and Resurrected, which weaves together personal narratives with a collective narrative about Belarusian history, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2020 and won the International Griffin Poetry Prize.