Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry takes centre stage for poetry festival

Contemporary and unexpected twists in store for UK’s longest running poetry festival   

-          Readings from acclaimed actors Paapa Essiedu and Natalie Simpson

-          Hip-hop poetry by Birmingham rapper, Juice Aleem

-          Shakespeare in Space, an intergalactic musical poetry workshop for all the family

-          Unexpected encounters with our poets-in-residence

The UK’s longest running poetry festival returns to Stratford-upon-Avon from 18 – 25 September with an exciting line-up of readings, performances and workshops featuring world-class poets and artists.

Organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the 63rd Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival celebrates 400 years of Shakespeare’s creative legacy with an enthralling programme of contemporary, diverse and inspirational poetry.  

Launching on 18 September, this year's highlights include readings from acclaimed Shakespearian actors Paapa Essiedu and Natalie Simpson, an experimental evening of Hip-hop, poetry and performance with Birmingham-based rapper Juice Aleem, bookbinding and creative writing workshops, a poetry choir with a programme of classical and contemporary choral work, an open-mic night, and a cheese and wine evening with a reading of Venus and Adonis in Shakespeare’s Schoolroom – the very place where he probably first thought of one of his most witty and sophisticated works. 

Children and the young at heart can also join in the fun, with a lively, ‘intergalactic’ musical poetry workshop featuring Shakespeare in Space!

Poetry can happen anywhere, at any time. This year ten, world-class poets have been invited to be poets-in-residence at venues across Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the Unexpected Encounters programme. Supported by Arts Council England and the Danish Arts Council, Unexpected Encounters features a diverse range of distinguished poets including Jo Bell, Matt Black, Roy McFarlane, Gregory Leadbetter and Arjunan Manuelpillai, taking inspiration from observations and interactions with people and their surroundings to produce compelling new pieces. Special guest poet-in-residence (in partnership with the Hosking Houses Trust) is Danish poet Cindy Lynn Brown, who will be writing poems inspired by Hamlet. At the end of the festival the poets will perform their work and share experiences at a special showcase evening on 24 September.

Dr. Paul Edmondson, Poetry Festival Director and Head of Research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust said, “We’re really excited by the variety and diversity of this year’s programme, bringing a fresh, contemporary approach to poetry for the enjoyment of people of all ages. Featuring works by established artists alongside plenty of new writing from up and coming talents, there will be plenty of opportunity for people to take inspiration and try their hand at creative writing. We look forward to welcoming people from near and far to enjoy this fantastic celebration of poetry in the hometown of one of the greatest poets of all.”

The 63rd Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival runs from 18 – 25 September 2016. For the full programme and to book tickets, visit


Press release issued by Alisan Cole, PR & Public Affairs Executive at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. For more information, contact 01789 207132 or email  

Notes to Editors:

Members of the media are welcome to attend any of the events and workshops taking place during the festival. For press accreditation, please email

About the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon, and promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times all over the world. Established by Act of Parliament in 1847, the charity runs formal and informal educational programmes for people of all ages. It holds the world’s largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives open free to the public, a collection which is designated as being of international importance. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust receives no public subsidy or direct revenue funding; it depends on income generated through the support of visitors, donors, volunteers and Friends. For more information, visit