The bi-annual Literature Festivals bring to King's Lynn hand-picked writers of fiction and poetry; some well known, others less so but all are brilliant writers well worth your attention.

All events take place at the stunning venue of the Town Hall, on the Saturday Market Place, in the heart of historic King's Lynn. Visitors can come to some or all the sessions; entry is £8.50 for each event, or £37.50 for an all-events weekend pass.

You'll need to be seated by the listed start time, so be sure to get to the venue well in advance.
The sessions last around 110 minutes, in two halves, and comprise readings, interviews and discussion. There's a bookstall creaking under the weight of the latest titles for you to buy and have signed by the authors. Tea and coffee are on offer, as well as a busy bar. There's a raffle over the course of the weekend, with the draw at the end of the Sunday session. The unique prize is a splendid book in which the writers have all contributed, by hand, a short paragraph or two.

You are welcome to join the writers, organisers and other festival-goers for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Full details are given at the morning events, expect a price of £12.

There's plenty to see in King's Lynn between events, and if you need accommodation, our friends as Stuart House Hotel offer a 15% discount - just mention the festival at the time of booking:



A welcome return to King’s Lynn for Martin Figura. His poetry ranges from the bitingly funny Boring The Arse Off Young People (Nasty Little Press) to the darkness of Whistle (Arrowhead, 2014), which together with the spoken-word show was shortlisted for the 2010 Ted Hughes Award for New Work, and received Arts Council Lottery Fund Awards in 2010 and 2011. Whistle was performed at Festivals and venues all over Britain; including the London Roundhouse and The Edinburgh Fringe to rave reviews. 2016 saw two publications, Shed (Gatehouse Press) and Doctor Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine (Cinnamon Press). His photography has been widely exhibited and published, including at the National Portrait Gallery. He is married to the poet Helen Ivory. They live in Norwich.


Pascale Petit was born in Paris in 1953, grew up in France and Wales and now resides in Cornwall. She trained as a sculptor at the Royal College of Art and has exhibited widely. She has published seven poetry collections. A portfolio from her sixth collection, Fauverie (2014), was her fourth to be shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize. Her fifth collection, What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo (Seren, 2010), was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and was Wales Book of the Year. She was Poetry Editor of Poetry London from 1989 to 2005 and is a co-founding tutor of The Poetry School. Her latest book, Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe 2017) is a Poetry Book Society Choice. She chaired the panel of judges for the 2015 TS Eliot Award. Her poems have been translated into 18 languages.


Elisabeth Sennitt Clough was born in Ely, and now lives in Norfolk having spent two decades living abroad. She graduated at Anglia Ruskin in English and Sociology, completed an MA at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, obtained her PhD at the Open University in 2010 and obtained an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan in 2013. Her publication, Glass, which sold its print run in two months, won the 2016 Swans Pamphlet Competition. In 2017 she won the Saboteur Pamphlet Award. Her first full- length collection, Sightings, lists a full page of prizes and commendations which include the Rosamund Prize (2016) for her poem Samson, and the Portico Bretherton Poetry Prize in 2014 for A Teapot for Mrs Derby.


Jean Boase-Beier was born in Huddersfield. She is Emeritus Professor of Translation and Literature at UEA, where she has taught since 1991. She is a translator between English and German and is the series editor of Visible Poets, the bilingual poetry books published by Arc. She has recently held an Arts and Humanities Fellowship on translating the poetry of the Holocaust. Her academic and other books, going back to 1980, amount to 16; in recent years these deal with translation of Holocaust poetry and her book of translations of Volker von Törne, Memorial To The Future, about whom she will be talking, will be published shortly.


Michelle Cahill is a Goan-Anglo-Indian living in Australia. She is an award-winning writer of poetry, fiction and essays. Her latest books are Letter to Pessoa (Fiction, Giramondo), Night Birds (Poetry, Vagabond, 2012), The Herring Lass (Poetry, Arc, 2016). She won the Val Vallis Poetry Award, the Hilary Mantel International Short Story Prize and was shortlisted for the Elizabeth Jolley Prize, among several others. She was a fellow at Kingston University and a Visiting Scholar in Creative Writing at UNC, Charlotte. She has written for numerous respected Australian periodicals. She is one of the international poets published by Arc.


Robert Crawford was born in and is a Scottish poet, critic and academic. He is Professor of English at the University of St Andrews. He obtained his MA at Glasgow and his D.Phil at Balliol, Oxford. He has published seven collections of poetry and a biography of TS Eliot. Crawford has received an Eric Gregory Award, twice received the Scottish Arts Council Book Award for Talkies (1992) and Spirit Machines (1999). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and in 2011, was a judge for the TS Eliot Prize and the National Poetry Prize and elected a Fellow of the British Academy. His latest collection is Testament (Cape, 2014).


George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956. His poems began appearing in national magazines in 1973 and his first book, The Slant Door, was published in 1979. It won the Faber Memorial prize. After the publication of his second book, November and May, 1982, he was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Since then he has published several books and won various other prizes including the TS Eliot Prize, for Reel, in 2005, alongside numerous awards for his translations. George Szirtes lives near Norwich with his wife, the painter Clarissa Upchurch. His latest collection, Mapping The Delta (Bloodaxe, 2016), proves Szirtes is on fine form.


Penelope Shuttle was born in 1947 and lives in Cornwall, where it rains inspiration. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 1974 and is the author of 11 collections, three of which were Poetry Book Society recommendations. Her 2006 collection, Redgrove’s Wife, shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and the Forward Poetry Prize, is a book of lament and celebration about the life and death of her husband, Peter Redgrove, and the loss of her father. She is also the author of six novels and received a Cholmondeley Award in 2007. Her recent collections are Four Portions of Everything on the Menu for M’Sieur Monet (2016) and Will You Walk a Little Faster? (2017).


Rosie Jackson was born in Yorkshire and did her first degree in English and Comparative Literature at the University of Warwick. She later lectured at UEA and at various posts in London, Bristol and Nottingham before relinquishing academic life. She has published seven books, including her debut poetry collection What The Ground Holds (2014), The Glass Mother: A Memoir (Unthank Books, 2016), The Light Box (2016), and and has recently completed a sequence of poems about artist Stanley Spencer. She was awarded, in 2017, a Hawthornden Fellowship. She lives near Frome, Somerset, where she works with creative writing and the arts in community and health settings.


Sarah Day was born in England and grew up in Tasmania. She graduated from the University of Tasmania and has lectured in English and Creative Writing. Sarah has been a board member of the Literature Fund of the Australia Council, and was poetry editor for the Tasmanian literary magazine, Island. Her first book was published in 1987 (A Hunger To Be Less Serious). This and subsequent collections have won numerous national awards, with some set to music by British composer Anthony Gilbert, also Adam Gorb, and Australian composer Andrea Breen. Her seventh, most recent, collection, Tempo (Puncher & Wattman, 2013) was shortlisted for the (Australian) Prime Minister’s Literary Award and won the Melbourne University Michel Wesley Wright Award. She lives in Hobart, Tasmania.


Roger Garfitt, born in 1944, is a poet, critic and former Editor of Poetry Review. His family comes from Heacham. He was awarded an Eric Gregory Award in 1972 which prompted him to become a freelance poet. He has published three collections with Carcanet and his memoir The Horseman’s Word (Cape, 2013) was shortlisted for the PEN/Ackerley Award. His sequence Border Songs is etched into the glass of the County Archives in Shrewsbury. His first wife was the distinguished poet Frances Horovitz who died young. He then lived in Colombia for some years. He has since remarried and lives in Shropshire. He has recorded In All My Holy Mountain, a celebration in poetry and jazz of the life of English novelist and poet, Mary Webb, with the John Williams Octet.


Poet photo credits: Derek Adams, Arc Publications, Bloodaxe Publications, Carcanet, Aisha Farr, Jemimah Kuhfeld, others supplied

All done:
King's Lynn International Poetry Festival
22-24 September 2017

Pascale Petit - George Szirtes
Penelope Shuttle - Martin Figura
Adnan al-Sayegh with his translator Stephen Watts
Elisabeth Sennitt Clough - Michelle Cahill 
Robert Crawford - Rosie Jackson 
Roger Garfitt - Sarah Day
Jean Boase-Beier

       Click here to download the programme (2.5mb pdf)Previously_files/poetry%202017%20programme%20web%20260717.pdfPreviously_files/poetry%202017%20programme%20web%20260717_1.pdfshapeimage_4_link_0

The Weekend's Events

Friday 22nd September 7.30pm

Martin Figura, Pascale Petit

Elisabeth Sennitt Clough


Saturday 23rd September 11.00am

Discussion, chaired by Professor John Lucas
Notwithstanding the Nobel Prize, why has poetry become seen as an elitist art here and
elsewhere in the world?


Saturday 23rd September 3.00pm

Adnan al-Sayegh

with his translator, Stephen Watts

Jean Boase-Beier


Saturday 23rd September 8.00pm

Michelle Cahill, Robert Crawford, George Szirtes 


Sunday 24th September 11.00am

Penelope Shuttle, Sarah Day, Rosie Jackson


Sunday 24th September 3.00pm

Poetry and Jazz

Roger Garfitt will perform
In All My Holy Mountain

a celebration in poetry and jazz of the life of English
novelist and poet, Mary Webb (1881-1927)

The Writers' Potted Biographies

Born in Iraq in 1955, Adnan al-Sayegh is one of the most original voices from the generation of Iraqi poets known as the Eighties Movement. His poetry carries an intense passion for freedom, love and beauty. Adnan uses his words as a weapon to denounce the devastation of war and the horrors of dictatorship. In 1993 his criticism of oppression and injustice led to his exile in Jordan and the Lebanon. After being sentenced to death in Iraq in 1996 for the publication of his book-length poem Uruk's Anthem, in which he gives voice to the profound despair of the Iraqi experience, he and his family took refuge in Sweden. Since 2004 he has been living in exile in London. He has received several international awards and has read from his ten collections of poems at festivals across the world. He appears with his translator Stephen Watts, a poet with cultural roots in the Alps and Scotland. Watts is the author of seven collections - his latest is Ancient Sunlight (Enitharmon, 2014). He has lived for over thirty years in Whitechapel.

Silently in attendance at each event were these amazing limbless poetry-inscribed mannequin torsoes, supplied by Mitchams Models, on behalf of Blue Smile - a charity helping children with mental health issues. Please click here for their website.

Photos left to right: Pascale Petit, Pascale, Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, Martin Figura, Michelle Cahill, Sarah Day, Rosie Jackson, Penelope Shuttle,
the discussion panel, Stephen Watts, Adnan al-Sayegh, Roger Garfitt, Elisabeth, Adnan signing Andee's book. Photos by Rob Elwes.