7th Festival of Suffolk Poetry

Because of the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic, the 7th Festival of Suffolk Poetry cannot now be held in 2020. The festival will be held on 8 May 2021.

Please watch this page for updates.

9 May 2020 8 May 2021

Stowmarket Community Centre
Hillside, Stowmarket, IP14 2BD

Map: Stowmarket Community Centre

We are proud to be moving the festival to the Stowmarket Community Centre, where the festival will be self-contained in one comfortable building which has an associated car park.


We are also proud to have George Szirtes and André Mangeot heading up the festival and providing two workshops in the morning.

George’s workshop (10:00-12:30) is entitled The Adventures of Constraint. George describes it thus: “We may imagine poetry, like all art, to be a product of the free play of the spirit. But spirit is a creature of language and language has its own games and ideas that offer liberation through conflict. Or better still, a dance in which spirit and language move to patterns that demand something of both.”

André’s workshop (also 10:00-12:30) is called Poetry, Politics and Contemporary Issues, and addresses how to address these sensitive issues in poetry: “If poetry is our response to the world around us, can we afford to ignore the urgent and troubling global issues now affecting us all? But if these are perceived as ‘political’ subjects, should poetry engage or steer clear? Can the two still combine in subtle and interesting ways to produce memorable poems? We’ll look at how a number of poets have walked this difficult tightrope, discuss their various approaches, and use these examples to kick-start new work.”

The afternoon (13:00-17:30) will give voice to Suffolk’s Poetry Cafés and also have an unusual item in the form of a play reading of an extract of Michael Bartholomew-Biggs’s Poems in the Case murder mystery. This is set in a poetry workshop, and will be introduced by Mike.

There might also be other surprises during the afternoon, which concludes with Open Mic. Book up on arrival.

The evening (18:45-21:30) brings SPS’s own Barbara Strangward and Nicola Warwick to the stage to give readings.

This is followed by the final six songs from the song cycle Islands of Love that was begun last year. This song cycle was written by James Knox Whittet and Colin Whyles, who wrote the music and will be accompanying Lynne Nesbit on piano.

The day concludes with readings from our headline poets André Mangeot and George Szirtes.

Catering, including a bar in the evening, will be provided throughout the day by the Green Café.

10:00-12:30 Workshops

  • George Szirtes
  • André Mangeot


  • Poetry Cafés
  • Poems in the Case dramatised extract
  • Open Mic


  • Barbara Strangward
  • Nicola Warwick
  • Islands of Love song cycle conclusion. Lynne Nesbit with Colin Whyles
  • André Mangeot
  • George Szirtes

Tickets are available from the SPS shop.

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