POETRY PLEASE

"Ledbury - Land of poets" proclaims the inaugural Ledbury Poetry Festival programme. You can forgive a newcomer to the cut-throat world of midsummer festivals pretty much any hubristic marketing ploy, especially when it's devoting itself to an artform that's as old as the hills, and subject to more ageist comments than an Eighties Radio 1 DJ. But this "picturesque and thriving" Herefordshire market town - "land" of poets? The alliteration hints at the justification: for it was on the nearby Malvern hills that William Langland set off on his Middle English epic Piers Ploughman: `In a somer seson, whan softe was the sonne'. The sun may be nowhere to be seen during the festival, but there should be plenty to transport you elsewhere. At the very least, coaches, providing visits to the area's poetic haunts: those of Langland, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Dymock poets, as well as the home of Ledbury's Poet Laureate, John Masefield. When you learn that WH Auden taught in the local school and got "married" to Thomas Mann's daughter, Erika, there, you might really start to wonder whether it shouldn't be "Ledbury: leyline of poets".

The backbone of the two-week festival is provided by circuit stalwarts Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage, Matthew Sweeney and Liz Lochhead, plus lunatic fringe lads John Hegley and John Cooper Clarke (above). The flesh comes in the shape of themed/performance spots. On Fri 4 Jul, for example, George Melly talks about the paintings of his friend, Conroy Maddox, which are accompanied by surrealist scribblings. That evening, there's a spoken word homage to those spirits of the open road, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Whitman and Steinbeck. Talks on unknown Victorian poetesses and one-man portraits of Wilfred Owen and Robert Frost might be steering things too much into the realm of stuffy sensibility, but the organisers promise "populist" events, such as pub limerick competitions, to help people let their Pam Ayres down. Every festival has its share of events that lack even the most moribund marketing imagination. Just be thankful you missed the first one, last month: the launch of kiddies' poems on balloons hosted by former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read. Truly, by the sound of it, a thing of baddenesse. Festival 4-13 Jul; main events Fri 4-6 Jul and Fri 11-13 Jul. Info: 01531 634156.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory