Over the past few weeks poets across Kendal have been preparing for the first ever Kendal Poetry Festival. It was held from the 24th to the 26th June.
A few months ago I entered the competition to be the Young Poet in Residence at the festival. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it. A couple of weeks later I received an email to tell me that I had actually won it! The judge was David Tait – a hugely respected poet, so this added to the honour. Being Young Poet in Residence added a few extra exciting details to my weekend. It meant that I got two performance slots alongside famous poets, I hosted an open mic and I got two one hour mentoring sessions. These mentoring were delivered by Clare Shaw who has to be one of my favourite poets of all time. It was so lovely to be able to discuss my work with someone else for that length of time, and I can honestly say that my writing has improved through her suggestions. They were invaluable. The reaction to my poems at my readings was incredible – like nothing I ever thought I would experience. As I am typing this I still can’t believe all of the encouragement and kind words people had for my work. I think it has special significance because these people did not know me – they didn’t have to come up to me afterwards and give me a compliment, they could have just walked past.
Not only this, but I had all of the usual programme of the weekend to enjoy. There were so many amazing poets performing. I can’t say that there was a single reading that I didn’t enjoy. However, I did have some highlights for me these were: Clare Shaw who paid tribute to the Orlando LGBT club shootings and read about her experience of flooding; Greta Stoddart who read her poem ‘The Curtain’ which is one of my all-time favourites and Helen Mort who read from her new collection about mountaineering women. It still makes me smile to think that I have seen this people in the flesh.
I also went to the Poetry Business Workshop with Peter and Ann Samson. It was such a well-timed and productive workshop. I have so many ‘baby poems’ (no, not poems about babies but poems I need to continue working on) sitting on the backburner now thanks to this workshop.
The young writers group I attend had a workshop run by Clare Shaw. This was such an amazing time to work individually but also as a group. It gave me the opportunity to experience a ‘group poem’ – something I have never done before. A ‘group poem’ means reading your work straight after the last person without a break. We created some pretty amazing poems as a collective.
Overall, the weekend was just a dream – and such an opportunity. I would like to thank all of the Brewery Poets who have put hours into making the festival a reality. It was something I never thought I would experience. I never thought I would read my work to a sold out audience or have people comment about my work in the positive way that they did.
Thank you to Martin Copley for providing the below picture.