Wendy Cope

Ian Duhig

Tiffany Atkinson

Hugo Williams

Esther Morgan

Gerdur Kristny

Michael Laskey

Pauline Stainer

Sue Leigh

Ellen Hinsey

Here are the full details of 2018’s International Poetry Festival in the heart of King’s Lynn’s historic old town - the 34th in its series. 

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Some of the world’s finest poets will gather for a weekend of readings, interviews and discussion, all in one glorious venue. Drop in for one or two sessions, or embrace the whole weekend. Many poets will be around for the duration, so you can meet and get to know them during the festival. You will recognise some of the names from previous festivals, and there are some you won’t know. But be assured, they’re hand-picked as worthy for you to spend a little time with. 

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The international flavour this year is provided by exceptional Icelandic poet, Gerður Kristný and Ellen Hinsey, an American based in Paris. On this page, you can see the timetable for the weekend, as well as the potted biographies. Click here for an easy-print version of the timetable.

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The two discussion events will look at war poetry, in this the centenary of the end of the Great War: on the Saturday, how the horrors of war - not only WW1 - can inspire such beauty in words. In Sunday’s event, we’ll hear the favourite war poems of our visiting poets, with plenty of contributions from the audience too, so come well prepared with yours.

The Weekend’s Events   

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Friday 28th September 7.30pm   

Ian Duhig

Tiffany Atkinson

Michael Laskey

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Saturday 29th September 11.00am    

Discussion: The Effect of War on Poetry

The writers will consider, with contributions from the audience. Chaired by John Lucas

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Saturday 29th September 3.00pm   

Esther Morgan

Gerður Kristný

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Saturday 29th September 8.00pm    

Wendy Cope

Hugo Williams

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Sunday 30th September 11.00am   

Pauline Stainer

Sue Leigh

Ellen Hinsey

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Sunday 30th September 3.00pm   

Discussion: Poetry of, and about, the Great War. 

The writers will make their choices, with help from the audience

Click the image to download the programme in pdf format 1.3mb

Ticket information: Each event is £8.50 (£1 students) available on the door. A weekend pass is £37.50. Lunches are booked at local restaurants for around £12. Be at the headcount at the morning event for inclusion in lunch.

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For evening performances it is advisable to book in advance to ensure entry. Email to book your tickets info@lynnlitfests.com or call Hawkins Ryan Solicitors for details 01553 691661.

Writers’ potted biographies

Ian Duhig was born in 1954 London of Irish Catholic parents and educated Leeds University. He is a teacher, a writer of short fiction as well as a poet. He has published nine collections and edited many anthologies. He has won the National Poetry Competition twice, in 1987 and 2000, and a Cholmondeley Award in 2001. He has five times been short-listed for the Forward Prize, winning in 2001, four times short-listed for the TS Eliot Prize and and short-listed once for both the Costa Poetry Prize and the Whitbread Prize. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has worked on a number of commissions, particularly involving music, and teaches  at the Arvon Foundation. In 1994 he was one of the New Generation Poets. His recent collections are The Blind Roadmaker (2016, Picador) and from Candlestick Press, Ten Poems About Rivers.

Tiffany Atkinson was born in 1972 in Berlin to an army family. In both 1993 and 1994, she won BBC Radio's Young Poet of the Year competition. She lectured at Aberystwyth University until 2014, and is now Professor in Creative Writing & Poetry at the University of East Anglia. Her first collection was Kink and Particle (2006), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and winner of the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. Catulla et al, her second collection, published in 2011, was the critically acclaimed updating of the Latin poet, Catullus. Her third, So Many Moving Parts (2014), is described as an eccentric 21st-century meditation on the awkwardness of body and spirit and their unexpected, often unwanted intrusions into the business of everyday life, which won the Roland Mathias Poetry Award in 2015. Her forthcoming collection, Dolorimeter, includes work on experiences of healthcare and the body that won the Medicine Unboxed Creative Prize 2014.

Michael Laskey was born in Lichfield in 1944, educated at Gresham’s and St John’s College, Cambridge. He worked for ten years as a teacher in secondary schools and further education in Spain. In 1989, Laskey founded the international Aldeburgh Poetry Festival - serving as its director for ten years - and in 1991, founded the poetry magazine, Smiths Knoll. He has published nine collections and edited nine other books. His collections Thinking of Happiness (1991) and The Tightrope Wedding (1999) were both Poetry Book Society recommendations, the latter also short-listed for the TS Eliot Prize. The Man Alone: New, and Selected Poems was published in 2008 and his latest is The Very Selected, (2017).

Esther Morgan was born in 1970 in Kidderminster and now lives in Norfolk. She read English at Newnham College, Cambridge and an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. She was awarded an Eric Gregory Award (1998). She has published four collections, and in 2001 won the Aldeburgh First Collection Award. She was short-listed for the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize for Beyond Calling Distance (2001, Bloodaxe). In 2010, she won the Bridport Poetry Prize for her poem This Morning, included in her third collection Grace (2011, Bloodaxe Books), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, which was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. Her latest is The Wound Register, published this year.

Gerður Kristný was born in 1970, and brought up in Reykjavík. She is a full-time writer of poetry, novels, children’s fiction and biography (A Portrait of Dad - Thelma’s Story, for which she won the Icelandic Journalism Award in 2005). She graduated in French and comparative literature from the University of Iceland and studied media there from 1992-3. She trained at Denmark's Radio TV and was editor of the magazine Mannlíf from 1998 to 2004. Other awards for her work include the Children's Choice Book Prize, 2003, for her book Marta Smarta (Smart Marta), the Halldór Laxness Literary Award in 2004 for her novel Bátur með segli og allt (A Boat With a Sail and All) and the West-Nordic Children's Literature Prize in 2010 for the novel Garðurinn (The Garden). Gerður’s 2012 collection, Blóðhófnir (Bloodhoof), the re-casting into compulsively spare modern verse of an ancient Eddic poem, won the the Icelandic Literature Prize. Gerður lives in Reykjavík with her husband and two sons and is published in the UK by Arc Publications.

Wendy Cope is a poet whose witty lyrics and pitch-perfect parodies have gained her a readership far beyond most of her peers. Born in Kent in 1945, she read History at St. Hilda's College, Oxford. Her debut collection, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, struck a chord with its lampooning of literary pretensions and its wry look at contemporary relationships, and has sold over 180,000 copies. Her subsequent collections - Serious Concerns in 1992 and If I Don't Know in 2001 (shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award) - confirmed her reputation as a classic English humorist while allowing room for poems of a more meditative tone. Her latest collection is Anecdotal Evidence (2018), her first collection since 2011’s Family Values. The best of her prose - recollections, reviews and essays - has been compiled in Life, Love and the Archers. She lives in Ely with her husband, the poet, Lachlan Mackinnon.

Hugo Williams was born in 1942, at Windsor, the son of matinee idol Hugh Williams and model and actress Margaret Vyner (Cole Porter: “You’re the tops, you’re an ocean liner, you’re the tops, you’re Margaret Vyner”). He was educated at Eton and has published 12 collections, a Selected, and a Collected, for which he was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. In the 1960s, he published two amazing travel books. He has written extensively for the London Magazine and the TLS. Hugo was awarded the Eric Gregory Award (1966), a Cholmondeley Award (1971), Geoffrey Faber Award and TS Eliot Prize for Billy’s Rain. He was short-listed for both the TS Eliot Prize and the Costa Prize for Poetry for Dear Room (2007). The Guardian called him “the last Bohemian”. He wrote “Deep in my heart, I see poetry as a branch of the entertainment industry. I am trying to do a song and dance act”.

Ellen Hinsey is a European/American writer, essayist and poet. Born in 1960 in Boston, Massachusetts, she is now based in Paris having lived, researched and taught across much of Europe. She is the author of nine books of essays, poetry, dialogue and literary translation, concerned with history, philosophy and democracy. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Tufts University, Massachusetts, and a graduate degree from Université de Paris VII. Hinsey's books of poetry include Cities of Memory (1996), winner of the Yale University Series Award, and The White Fire of Time (2002). She has edited and translated The Junction: Selected Poems of (Lithuanian poet) Tomas Venclova (2008). Her 2009 collection, Update on the Descent (Bloodaxe), written out of her experience at an international war crimes tribunal, and her latest title, The Illegal Age (2018, Arc Publications) were both finalists for the (US) National Poetry Series.

Pauline Stainer was born in 1941 in Stoke on Trent and educated at the University of Southampton and St Anne’s College, Oxford. She has published nine Collections, the most recent being Crossing The Snowline (2008, Bloodaxe) and Sleeping under the Juniper Tree (2017, Bloodaxe). She has been awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship (1987) and was short-listed for the Whitbread Award for The Wound Dresser’s Dream (1996). She was awarded the King’s Lynn Award for Poetry in 2000 which resulted in A Litany of High Waters (2000). She now lives in Essex, and previously lived on the Orkney island of Rousay.

Sue Leigh’s new collection of poetry, Chosen Hill, is out this year from Two Rivers Press. Her work frequently appears in magazines and journals, including Areté, Oxford Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement and The Warwick Review.  She is a regular reviewer for PN Review.  She has won the BBC Proms Poetry Competition and Carol Ann Duffy’s Shore to Shore Competition. Sue read English at London University and completed her doctorate at the University of Aberystwyth. After working for Faber for a number of years, she left London and settled in rural Oxfordshire, where she now works as a freelance writer.

The distinguished poet, novelist and critic, John Lucas is Professor Emeritus at the Universities of Loughborough and Nottingham Trent. He is the author of many academic works and has published seven books of his own poetry. His novels include The Good That We Do (2000) and 92 Acharnon Street (2007), the latter two blending fiction, memoir and social history. Other recent books include A Brief History of Whistling, an esoteric study that somehow attracted the attention of Have I Got News For You, and a charming and beautifully produced anthology of 10 Cricket Poems. John Lucas was the winner of the Aldeburgh Festival Poetry Prize. He runs Shoestring Press and lives in Nottingham.