The Writing's on the wall at Lichfield Cathedral

Published on: Thu, 14/11/2019 - 10:59

The writing’s on the wall at Lichfield Cathedral as it prepares for its first poetry festival which opens with dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah on 24 November.

The cathedral asked for new poems on the subject of awe and wonder and light in our darkness for a competition festival and received over 1,020 entries.

These have now been whittled down by the competition judge and multi award winning poet and broadcaster, Michael Symmons Roberts and are currently being collated into a special display by the Cathedral’s Artist In Residence, Artist Peter Walker that will see the poems line the walls of the nave from the festival opening until Epiphany in the new year.

Lichfield cathedral is celebrating the art, craft and form of poetry writing during this five-day festival - part a year of creativity at Lichfield Cathedral to mark the Moon Landing Anniversary and it includes some top names as well as a series of creative workshops for young and old.

Former Staffordshire poet laureate and the current Poet in Residence at Lichfield Library, Emily Rose Galvin, a writer and performer, will run a creative workshop continuing the Moon Landing Anniversary theme, exploring the Mythology of the Moon. She will also team up with Friary school teacher, Phil Knight for a beginners’ slam poetry evening for young people followed by pizza. 

And poetry slam champion and performance poet, Emma Purshouse  who has just been named Wolverhampton’s first poet laureate will bring her unique slant on all things spoken in a special workshop that explores inspiration and creative ideas.

Benjamin Zephaniah – best known for bringing Dub Poetry into British living rooms and latterly his appearance in Peaky Blinders, will open the festival on Sunday November 24 while Michael Symmons Roberts, poet, novelist and librettist, will close the event on Thursday 28 November by announcing the top three winning poets in the Cathedral’s poetry competition at a special prize giving event followed by a reading from his own work.

The poet, singer-songwriter, academic and priest, Malcolm Guite will lead an evening of Songs and Sonnets on Monday 25 November and on Tuesday 26th, Poetry by Candlelight will bring a multi sensory feel to the festival with a range of performances that will lead visitors on a journey through the building all set to the glow of candlelight. 

Anglican priest, poet and feminist theologian, Rachel Mann will read from her debut full collection A Kingdom of Love on Wednesday 27 and will run a workshop on the sacred and the profane on the morning of Thursday 28 November.

No newcomer to innovative art exhibitions, it is the first the Cathedral has held a poetry festival and the Dean, the Very Revd 

Adrian Dorber, said: “This is an immensely exciting “first” for the cathedral.

“The moon landing in 1969 was a momentous year for mankind – that one small step opened us up to tremendous possibilities, of journeys to be made, and explorations to encounter.

“This summer we recreated the moon landscape in our nave and invited people to walk upon it and used art to tell its story.

“Now we turn our attention to the use of words to tell the bigger story of humankind’s light in the darkness,” he added.

Tickets for performances and The Word programme can be found here: