Wirral Poetry Festival, here in Port Sunlight!

After a two-year hiatus, this year’s Wirral Poetry Festival will take place over the weekend of the 7th – 9th October in Port Sunlight and details have now been published on the website:


 The festival will take place over three sites, The Bridge Inn, The Lady Lever Art Gallery and Bear Hunt Books. There are many free events including some activities for children.  It kicks off on the Friday night with a reading by the South Walian poet Philip Gross who will also be presenting a workshop on Saturday morning.  Our other headline poet is the Costa Prize Winning Hannah Lowe who will be reading on Sunday.   

There will be drop-in sessions in the Art Gallery and Bear Hunt Books.  These will be open to anyone who is curious about poetry.  We are especially pleased to have some sessions about the dyslexia and poetry that have grown out of online sessions held during lockdown.  There will be open mics and even a slam.  We also have the Village Poetry Walk with Port Sunlight’s own Jane Thomas who was winner of the festival’s Wirral Poetry Prize.

We look forward to greeting people from far and near over the Festival Weekend including Stephanie JT Russell the overall winner of our Poetry Competition who will be journeying from her home in New York.  This is truly a local festival with an international reach.

We hope, if this year proves successful, to make Port Sunlight a more  permanent home for the annual poetry festival.

We believe that support from local residents would be an integral part of the festival’s success.  Please see below for a complete list of the weekend’s activities.


          Wirral Poetry Festival – LIVE WEEKEND

                                   7th 8th & 9th October 2022



Gallery Safari/Trail

A children’s worksheet will be available from the Festival’s Website as a download with printed versions available at the Gallery.  Bear Hunt Books may also take hard copies.



 7:30 – 8:30      Philip Gross – The Way that it Flows


Reading followed by Q&A and book signing.

Philip Gross has published 25 collections, for adults and for young people; the latest are Between The Islands (Bloodaxe, 2020) and Troeon/Turnings (Seren, 2021) with Welsh language poet Cyril Jones. A new Bloodaxe collection, The Thirteenth Angel, is due in November 2022. He won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2009, a Cholmondeley Award in 2017, and is a keen collaborator – with artist Valerie Coffin Price on A Fold In The River (Seren, 2015), with poet Lesley Saunders on A Part of the Main (Mulfran, 2018) and with scientists on Dark Sky Park (Otter-Barry, 2018). www.philipgross.co.uk


9:00 – 10:30    Poetry Social at The Bridge with the Roving Poetry Mic


with Kemal Houghton and Ali Harwood


 BEAR HUNT BOOKS, Bebington Village.   (Set up Fri afternoon)

10:15 am –4:00 pm  Dyslexia & Poetry Drop-in plus Children’s Workshop
with Helen Kay and Debbie Breeze – workshop with simple interactive art

Plus short reading of children’s poetry by Celia Gentles



 10:15 – 12:30 The Way that it Flows – Workshop Plus with Philip Gross

£10.00 Ticketed




 12:00 – 2:00 Wirral Poetry Groups Showcase

With Ali Harwood and Chris McCabe (National Poetry Librarian)


Drop in and see what Poetry is happening in and around the Wirral.    Local groups will be on hand to tell you what they do plus reading aloud and others interested in the pursuit and application of Poetry.


12:00 – 2:00 Poets Lunch

Poets can purchase “Take Away” food and drink from the café and take it to the “Poets’ Lunch” Room (left of the Learning Rooms).

12:00 – 2:00 Poetry Film


Enjoy this programme of short poetry films which will run continuously throughout the lunchtime session.



2:30 – 3:30  Dyslexia & Poetry Talk and Reading

            With Mel Wardle Woodend

Staffordshire Laureate, Mel Wardle Woodend will talk about what led her to setting up her dyslexia friendly poetry press Dream Well Publishing.   Some of her published poets will be on hand to read from their work.

4:00 – 5:00 Poem Share

Kemal Houghton presents a celebration of Poems from the Picnics and Zoom Events that have taken place since 2019.

6:00 – 8:00 Poetry Slam
            Ali  Harwood and  Dan Cullinan.

Twelve poets will slam it out to reach a final winner of this year’s £50 prize.  Entrance is free but you are advised to book for this popular event.  If you want to take part in the slam please indicate this when booking.

8:00 – 10:00 Open Mic

Hosted by Paul Harris (Riverside Poets) and Tony Forshaw (?)




10:00 – 12:00 Village Poetry Walk with Jane Thomas – Meet at the Bridge Inn

FREE – Ticketed

Our Wirral Prize winner Jane Thomas has travelled far, but you can join her on this short walk of about a mile around Port Sunlight Village.

This year Jane has taken part of the Southampton Writers Conference with Billy Collins at Stony Brook University, USA.  Her pamphlet has been highly commended in both The Rialto and Poetry Wales pamphlet competitions.  Her single poems have been highly commended in The Bridport Prize, Fish, Live Canon and Hippocrates and published in: Stand, The Rialto, Envoi, Mslexia and The Oxford.



2:00 – 2:45 Inspired by Lady Lever – The Festival Team

Join the Festival Team as they take you on a short tour of the Lady Lever Art Gallery in this its centenary year.  John Oldershaw will be on hand to introduce the poets who will read their work which has been inspired by the collection.  There is no need to book, just turn up on the day.


THE BRIDGE INN (3:30 – 7:00)

3:30 – 5:00  Celebrating the Winners

We celebrate the winners and commendees of this year’s festival poetry competition with various readings including Wirral Prize winner Jane Thomas and overall winner, the New York based poet Stephanie J T Russell.


5:00 – TEA


5:30 – 6:30 Hannah LoweThe Kids

£10.00 Ticketed        

Hannah’s reading will include poems from her Costa Prizewinning collection The Kids.
Hannah Lowe is a poet, memoirist and academic. Her latest book, The Kids, a Poetry Book Society ‘Choice’ for Autumn, won the Costa Poetry Award and was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. Her first poetry collection Chick (Bloodaxe, 2013) won the Michael Murphy Memorial Award for Best First Collection. In September 2014, she was named as one of 20 Next Generation poets. She teachers creative writing at Brunel University.