Star-studded new arts festival for Ripon

Ripon poets Andy Croft, David McAndrew and Paul Mills. (1707181AM1)
Ripon poets Andy Croft, David McAndrew and Paul Mills. (1707181AM1)

Ripon is set to claim its place on the UK’s literary map with a new festival thanks to a group of local poets.

The city will be packed with poetry readings, workshops and book launches for poetry lovers of all ages with the launch of the new Ripon Poetry Festival.

Taking place over three days in October, the first-ever such event will offer a high-profile line-up of events and guests, including Michael Rosen, the former Children’s Laureate.

Co-organiser Andy Croft said the aim was to put the city back in the literary spotlight for poetry where it belongs.

He said: “Although Ripon enjoys some important literary associations; Lewis Carroll and Wilfred Owen both wrote some of their most famous work while living in Ripon; poetry lovers usually have to travel to Ilkley, York or Middlesbrough in order to enjoy the best of contemporary poetry.

“We are hoping to change this with the first ever Ripon Poetry Festival.”

Highlights of the programme for the first Ripon Poetry Festival include readings by Michael Rosen and Kate Fox, poetry-workshops called Rhyme and Punishment for children at the Workhouse, Courthouse and Police museums, the screening of a film-poem set in Ripon, a guided Wilfred Owen Walk and a performance in the Leper Hospital of an Anglo-Saxon epic poem.

This exciting new event is the work of Andy and two other Ripon writers.

Andy himself has written over 80 books – poetry, novels, biography and children’s fiction. He also curates the T-junction international poetry festival in Middlesbrough and runs Smokestack Books.

Paul Mills taught at York St John University until taking early retirement in 2005 to concentrate on his own writing.

His books of poetry include Half Moon Bay, Dinosaur Point and Voting for Spring. He has published two books on writing, and two of his plays have been performed: Herod at the National Theatre, and Never at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

David McAndrew used to teach English at the College of Ripon and York St John. His books include Gesture from Fragments, Elegies and Making it Up.

Andy said: “The idea for the festival arose out of conversations between myself, Paul and David.

“We’re all poets and, although the poetry that the three of us write is very different, we share many of the same ideas about poetry being an inclusive, involving and necessary activity.”

As well as the appearance by Michael Rose, Ripon Poetry Festival is also inviting local writers of all ages to submit poems about Ripon and the surrounding area to the festival’s poetry competition.

Judged by local poets Elizabeth Spearman, David McAndrew and Andy Croft, the winners will share hundreds of pounds worth of books in prizes.

The best poems will also be published in a book released during the festival.

All successful entries will receive a free copy of the book.

Ripon Poetry Festival runs from October 13-15.