Reading Poetry Festival 2013

Page from an edition of a selection of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poems published by the Eragny Press (1904) held in the University of Reading rare book collections5-9 June 2013

Welcome to a five-day celebration of poetry, performance and the printed word! Events are open to all: families & children, creative writers, students, artists & academics. Listen to leading international poets discuss their work and the literary scene today; come to the annual Finzi Lecture by Iain Sinclair; attend creative writing workshops and hear live poetry readings.

There will also be two special poetry exhibitions: STUFF: The Look of Poetry at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), and A Poetic A-Z of Reading at the University of Reading main library.

The festival welcomes all those with an interest in poetry: scholars, creative practitioners, students and poetry enthusiasts.

The programme is listed below. For full details of all events and poets, visit



A Poetic A-Z of Reading

This exhibition celebrates a variety of creative activity through the lens of Reading town as busy commuter hub. It brings together manuscripts, books, maps, pamphlets, artworks and a number of poetic alphabets from the University of Reading Special Collections and private collections.

STUFF: The Look of Poetry

  • 27 March - 27 June 2013
  • FREE
  • Open during normal museum opening times
  • MERL, Staircase hall

This exhibition brings together a range of provoking and delightful poetic materials, in which word, image and object move into striking visual combinations. Here, poems ingeniously court the public eye, sensitive to the look and touch of their production. Printed pages meet and mingle with sculptures, tablets and stones; archival documents with typographical equipment. STUFF is a celebration of poetry’s ingenious handling of the look and feel of inscribed words.

Read more about this exhibition on the Special Collections web page


Programme of events

Event information

BOOK Places on these events are limited and booking is required
For all booking information visit Reading Poetry Festival bookings.

DROP-IN There is no need to book for these events.

FREE Some events are free to everyone. All events after 6pm are free.

£ Where charges apply, payment for booked events is required in advance. All bookings are being managed by MERL (see terms and conditions). Credit card payments can be taken.

Concessionary rates apply to senior citizens, those with a disability, and students in full-time education. All events are FREE to University of Reading students. Please let us know your student number when you book your place.


Wednesday 5 June

Gerald Finzi Memorial Lecture
Iain Sinclair ‘American Smoke: Journeys to the End of the Light’

  • 6.30 – 7.45pm
  • L22, Institute of Education (Link to University Maps)
  • Suitable for adults

For the annual Gerald Finzi Memorial Lecture, award-winning poet Iain Sinclair’s lecture takes us on a subversive exploration of the psychogeography of America, investigating the relationship between identity and place.

Evening reception

  • 7.45 – 8.30pm
  • MERL
  • Suitable for adults


Thursday 6th June

Poetry and Italy day 

One day symposium to celebrate the centenary of Vittorio Sereni (1913-1983)

  • 10am – 4.45pm
  • MERL, Conference room
  • £15/£9 | BOOK
  • Suitable for adults

This one day symposium reflects upon and responds to the writings of Italian poet Vittorio Sereni, known for his lyric verse on the importance of love and friendship as factors in the face of political and private upheaval, and will feature afternoon readings of Sereni’s works by Maurizio Cucchi and Peter Robinson.


Poetry readings from Vittorio Seneri’s works with Maurizio Cucchi & Peter Robinson

  • 5 – 7pm
  • MERL, Conference room
  • Suitable for adults.


Friday 7th June

Children’s Poetry Day

Toddlers’ poetry

  • 10-11am & 1-2pm
  • MERL
  • £2 per child | DROP-IN
  • Suitable for families with children aged 2 to 4

Join us for our regular toddler time session, this week with a special theme of poetry and rhyme. 


Children’s poetry workshops

  • 11.30am – 3pm
  • Institute of Education

An event for local schools including Korky Paul, A.F. Harrold, Jeanette Darcy & Michael Lockwood.


Children’s poetry book signing

  • 3.15 – 4.15pm
  • MERL
  • Suitable for families with children of all ages

Drop into the museum for this unique opportunity to meet some of the poets contributing to the University of Reading’s Children’s Poetry Day. Korky Paul, John Hegley and A.F. Harrold will be happy to answer questions and sign books.


An audience with John Hegley

  • 4.30 – 6.00pm
  • L22, Institute of Education
  • Suitable for families with children 7 +

Parents and families are welcome to come to this after-school talk and reading from the celebrated poet. This will be an interactive session, suggesting ways in which adults can help children develop an interest in poetry.
Please note that children must be accompanied by an adult at this event. We cannot accept bookings for unaccompanied groups of children.


Evening reception, special opening of exhibition 'STUFF: The Look of Poetry' & launch party

  • 6.45pm – 8:45pm
  • MERL
  • Suitable for adults.

This event will include readings from the Creative Arts Anthology 2013.


Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th June

Conversations & poetry readings  

These two days of public discussions and readings bring together poets and artists from across Britain and Europe. Each participant is fascinated by different aspects of contemporary place and space: literary investments in politics and economics; ecology and urban planning to archival record; the dealings of the publishing industry to questions about regional, racial and sexual identity.


Saturday 8th June

Conversations & poetry readings

  • 10am – 6.45pm
  • £15/£9 | BOOK
  • MERL, Conference room
  • Suitable for adults

Detailed Programme

10 – 11.30am - Nations and translations
Panel 1: Conor Carville & Leontia Flynn – Poetry, Politics and Nation Panel 2: Andy Houwen & Esther Jansma – Poetry and Translation 11.30am – Coffee break
11.45am - Poetry reading 1
Esther Jansma & Maurizio Cucchi, translated by Andrew Houwen & Peter Robinson
1.00pm – LUNCH BREAK
2 – 3.30pm - Contemporary poetry and audience
Panel 3: Matthew Sperling & Richard Price – Little Presses: Big Deals Panel 4: Alison Donnell & Dorothea Smartt – Poetry and Community 3:30pm – Coffee Break
3.40pm - Poetry reading 2

Richard Price, Dorothea Smart, Leontia Flynn
4.45 – 6.45pm - Contemporary lyric dilemmas
Panel 5: Natalie Pollard & Mark Ford – Poetry and Money
Panel 6: Peter Robinson & Zoë Skoulding – Poetry and Editing
Panel 7: Steven Matthews & Iain Sinclair – Legacies of Modernism


Poetry reading and evening reception

  • 7 – 9.30pm
  • MERL / L22 Institute of Education
  • Suitable for adults 

Poetry Reading 3
Mark Ford, Peter Robinson, Zoë Skoulding, Iain Sinclair.

The reception will take place at MERL and then guests will be escorted to the lecture theatre for poetry readings at approximately 7.30pm.


Sunday 9th June

Creative writing workshops

  • 10am – 12pm
  • £10/£6* | BOOK
  • MERL, Conference room
  • Suitable for adults

These small-group writing seminars are led by published poets, Kate Noakes and Tom Phillips, who offer developing writers a dynamic and supportive environment in which to further their poetic skills, and to enter into discussion about contemporary poetry

Conversations & poetry readings

  • 12 - 5pm 
  • £10/£6* | BOOK
  • MERL, Conference room
  • Suitable for adults

* If booking both events, a discount will apply. £15/£9 for all events from 9am-5pm on Saturday 9 June.

12–1.30pm Science and romance
Panel 8: Matthew Scott & Bernard O’Donoghue – Post Romantic Places Panel 9: John Holmes & Kei Miller – Poetry, Spaces and Science
1.30pm – Lunch Break
2.15pm – Poetry reading 4
Bernard O’Donoghue, Kei Miller, Conor Carville, Steven Matthews 3.15–4.45pm - Visual poetries
British Small Press & Avant-Garde Poetries Including Jeff Hilson, David Herd, and Carrie Etter.
4:45 – Coffee break


Evening poetry reading & Two Rivers Press event

  • 5 – 6.30pm
  • MERL
  • Suitable for adults 


Poetry Reading 6 - Two Rivers Press Event
Claire Dyer, Jean Watkins, A.F. Harrold, Susan Utting, Lesley Saunders, Tom Phillips


Event venues

Museum of English Rural Life (MERL)
University of Reading, Redlands Road, Reading RG1 5EX

Institute of Education
University of Reading, London Road campus, 4 Redlands Road, Reading RG1 5EX

University of Reading Library
University of Reading, Whiteknights campus, Reading RG6 6AE

How to book

For all booking information visit Reading Poetry Festival bookings.

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