The National Trust’s Dunham Massey estate near Altrincham is holding its first-ever poetry festival, taking place over the weekend of Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September. The two-day Women In Words event will be welcoming seven contemporary female poets as part of the National Trust’s year-long Women & Power programme, which is running throughout 2018 to mark the centenary of some British women being first granted the right to vote.
The Women In Words festival will give you the chance to take part in hands-on creative writing workshops, hear a feast of powerful poetry performed live, and meet, chat to and eat cake with the poets at the special festival brunches or high teas. What’s more, entry to the house and garden is included with all Women In Words weekend poetry festival event tickets, so you can enjoy a packed day out in the Cheshire countryside, providing you with even more inspiration to take home with you.
Saturday’s programme starts with a hands-on morning session led by the enigmatic Young Identity director Shirley May (named as one of Manchester’s 100 Inspirational Women earlier this year), who’s launching her new collection She Wrote Her Own Eulogy at Manchester Central Library next month. In her workshop, she’ll be taking objects she’s chosen from Dunham Massey’s vast collection relating to the festival’s overarching theme of Women & Power as prompts for different writing exercises.
After the workshop, Shirley will be joined in the Festival Tent by Northern Poetry Train‘s Helen Mort for a double reading and discussion as everyone enjoys brunch. Helen has published two poetry collections, Division Street and No Map Could Show Them, and she has a novel, Black Car Burning, out soon along with a short story collection, Exire, due this month, so talk might even stretch beyond poetry and stray into the realms of prose.
Presiding over Saturday’s festival tea in the afternoon is Jean Sprackland, author of four critically acclaimed poetry collections and winner of the Portico Prize and the Costa Poetry Award. She’ll be reading some of her work and taking questions from the audience, before signing books.
Saturday’s events conclude with a special performance of the one-woman monologue piece Wife, by actress Ella Duffy, which takes Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry series The World’s Wife as its starting point to explore the lives of women married to famous men. This show will take place inside Dunham Massey House, in the Great Gallery.
On Sunday, multi-award-winning writer Kim Moore will be curating the morning masterclass in the Women In Words Festival Tent, and then brunching with “stand-up poet” Kate Fox, who has put in regular appearances on BBC Radio 4’s popular Saturday Live magazine programme.
The afternoon session, which includes tea and cake, will see Malika Booker – shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for first full collection, in her case Pepper Seed, out with Peepal Tree Press – reading from her work and chatting about her processes, before a book signing to round off the weekend. So, plenty to cram in!