Nottingham Poetry Festival – a brief look at the dazzling line up

Francesca Mesce
Tue 3 Apr, 2018

It's back! In just a few short weeks, Nottingham Poetry Festival will be highlighting our home-grown talent while attracting the cream of nationally-renowned poets. Francesca Mesce had a sneaky peek:

For the past two springs, nationally renowned poets have gathered in Nottingham for an incredible festival of poetry and spoken word. Coming into its third year, Nottingham Poetry Festival 2018 promises much more of the good stuff. This year we will be welcoming the likes of Roger McGough CBE, Jackie Kay MBE, Mark Grist, Hollie McNish, and many others in a line-up that will showcase Nottingham as the incredible city of literature it is. Below is a brief bio of some of the poets that will be wowing our crowds.

Roger McGough, born in the outskirts of Liverpool, began his poetry career back in 1963 when he formed the poetry-pop music group ‘The Scaffold’. He was included in The Mersey Sound: Penguin’s Modern Poets (1967), along with Adrian Henri and Brian Patten. From this he made his name as one of the ‘Liverpool Poets’. He went on to win the Signal Poetry Award in 1984 and again in 1999. He has lent his writing to plays, musicals, and BBC Radio where he also presented ‘Poetry Please’ and ‘Home Truths’. McGough has won two BAFTAs and a Royal Television Society award for his film work. He was awarded his O.B.E. for services to poetry in 1997.

Jackie Kay is the third Scottish Makar, a novelist, and has published numerous poetry collections for both adults and children. Her debut collection The Adoption Papers (Bloodaxe, 1991) won the Scottish Arts Council Book Award and a Saltire Society Award for best first book. Kay was adopted as a baby and thus her writing centres on identity. Trumpet (1998), her first novel, won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award. She was awarded her MBE in 2006 for services to literature and is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University. Kay was appointed Chancellor of the University of Salford as well as its ‘Writer in Residence’.

Hollie McNish is a poet, spoken word artist, and author based near Cambridge. Amassing over 4 million channel views on YouTube, McNish has published five poetry books in as many years. Her spoken word album ‘Versus’ was released in 2014 and made history by being the first album recorded by a poet at Abbey Road Studios. She won the UK Slam Poetry Competition in 2009 and her fourth book Nobody Told Me (2016) won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. McNish lent her talent to stage when she co-wrote the play ‘Offside’ with Sabrina Mahfouz, which was made into a novel in 2017. She also delivers workshops in schools around the UK.

Mark Grist is a poet, battle rapper, and teacher who rose to prominence when his Don’t Flop rap battle against MC Blizzard went viral and amassed 5 million views on YouTube. Before that, he taught his English students poetry by using rap techniques to engage them. He toured the UK and performed at Edinburgh Fringe with MC Mixy in the spoken word/hip hop duo Dead Poets. Since he became nationally recognised, Grist has worked with BBC, Channel 4, and Google to name a few and has recently toured schools in Indonesia and Switzerland.

Alongside this line up, our homegrown poetry talent will be gracing the stage: Nottingham’s Young Poet Laureate Georgina Wilding, the internationally renowned Jai Verma of Kava Rang, Andrew Graves, Milla Tebbs, and Stephen Thomas. There’ll be a series of free ‘Poetry Hour’ events across Nottinghamshire libraries, too, hosted by our patron Henry Normal.

Nottingham Poetry Festival will be running from 20th to 29th April with events spread across the entire city. Keep an eye out for our Poet Laureate Georgina’s face as special commissioned posters will be adorning the width and breadth of Nottingham. 

Full programme, and more details, here

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