Helen Ivory’s Guide to the Poetry Scene in Norwich and Norfolk

Helen Ivory, who’s book, “The Double Life of Clocks” is published by Bloodaxe, here surveys the Norfolk scene (reproduced from Poetry News, Summer 2004 and www.poetrysociety.org.uk )

There's something about Norfolk – the coastline, the marshes, the pace of life – that seeps under the skin. It is relatively inexpensive here, which, added to the romance, is probably why it has become a byway for poets. Edwin Brock and George Barker were long-term residents and wrote of the region. Anthony Thwaite has lived here since the seventies, Peter Scupham and George Szirtes since the nineties, and Kevin Crossley-Holland has the north-Norfolk tides running in his veins.


Poetry festivals are everywhere. Wells-next-the-Sea holds a weekend festival every May. This year we were dazzled by Kit Wright and next year look forward to Michael Donaghy and Rita Ann Higgins. Cley Little Festival enjoyed performance poets The Joy of Six, while Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger from Only Fools and Horses) will be in Salthouse in July performing Keats. Collaborative projects abound in the county, too. Most recently Creative Arts East brought together the work of nine local poets and photographers in a touring exhibition, Reflections, which profiles the landscape and people of Norfolk and Suffolk.


These are just snippets. For everything literary in this area, Literature Development Officer Lisa D'Onofrio is your first port of call. She is based at the Forum in Norwich, under the umbrella of Creative Arts East and presides over The Literature Network. This produces a quarterly newsletter and regular mailings and it is well worth getting your name on the list.


A new project in Norwich – the New Writing Partnership – begins in November steered by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Arts Council East. An annual four-day event is planned at the Assembly Rooms consisting of high-level workshops in various genres, including poetry. Debates, panels, readings and interviews are planned featuring George Szirtes, Hugo Williams and Lavinia Greenlaw. Poets in residence Esther Morgan and John Burnside will lead the workshops. For more information, contact Katri Skala.


The live poetry scene in Norwich is bubbling with places to read, be entertained or make contacts. Café Writers meets on the second Monday of the month at 7.15pm (except August) at The Marzano Bar, in the Forum.

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