Stratford-upon-Avon takes centre stage for poetry festival

The UK’s longest running poetry festival returns to Stratford-upon-Avon this summer (2 July – 2 August) with an exciting line-up of readings, performances and workshops, mixing the talents of inspirational and award-winning poets with actors and musicians.

Organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the 62nd Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival will mark the centenary of the death of Rupert Brooke, celebrate John Keats as a great Shakespearian, and welcome poet in residence Sally Goldsmith. Whether you’re a seasoned poet, interested in creative writing or simply enjoy a spot of literary culture, there’s something for everyone.

Launching on 2 July with a Poetry Mass at the Guild Chapel, festival highlights include:

  • Songs and Sonnets Poetry Workshop (4 July) – explore the meaning of the sonnet and create your own song with poet in residence, Sally Goldsmith.
  • Patience Agbabi’s Telling Tales (5 July) – an evening of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales re-told with a contemporary twist.
  • Jo Bell’s ‘Kith’ (11 July) - a return visit from last year's poet in residence Jo Bell, who brings her new book 'Kith' to the festival.
  • Filmpoem Festival Fifteen (11 July) – an evening of poetry films, curated by leading poetry filmmaker Alistair Cook. Supported by the Poetry Society.
  • Amnesty: Poems for Freedom! (12 July) – join Jane Lapotaire and Jasper Britton for an evening dedicated to freedom, in collaboration with Amnesty International UK.
  • The Poetry of Rupert Brooke (19 July) – Edward Bennett and Michelle Terry perform the poetry of Rupert Brooke to mark the centenary of his death.
  • Words, Words, Words (24 July) – renowned folk musician Ashley Hutchings presents a life in words and music.
  • John Keats: Shakespearian, Friend and Poet (26 July) – actor Scott Handy performs Keat’s poetry in a poignant tribute to Shakespeare.

Other popular events include a local poets evening, poetry Sunday with free activities for all the family, and the young people’s poetry featuring works from local schoolchildren. The festival concludes on 2 August with Desert Island Poems, in a grand finale featuring internationally renowned Royal Shakespeare Company voice director, Cicely Berry. Passionate about poetry since the age of 12, Cicely will share some of her favourite pieces along with a surprise special guest reader.  

Dr. Paul Edmondson, Poetry Festival Director and Head of Research and Knowledge at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust said, “We are delighted to be working with Writing West Midlands on this year’s programme which brings together a great variety of events featuring works by established artists alongside plenty of new writing from up and coming talents. There will also be opportunities for people of all ages to turn their hand at creative writing, with the help of our poet in residence, Sally Goldsmith.

“I am especially pleased that we are hosting an event with the Stratford branch of Amnesty International where the audience will be encouraged to send a postcard in support of a prisoner of conscience on the night. 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.”

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 contact Alisan Cole at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on 01789 207132 or 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. 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