Pascale Petit and Daniel Sluman with music from Coco Inman 24 September 2016

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This event will begin earlier than usual at 1.30-3.00 and will be in the South Gallery, Whitworth Art Gallery (due to building work being carried out in the Grand Hall). Apologies for any inconvenience.

Pascale Petit

Photo credit: Derek Adams

Photo credit: Derek Adams

Pascale Petit’s sixth collection Fauverie was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize and
won the Manchester Poetry Prize. Her fifth collection What the Water Gave Me:
Poems after Frida Kahlo was shortlisted for both the T S Eliot Prize and Wales Book
of the Year, and was a Book of the Year in the Observer. Four of her collections were
shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize and chosen as Books of the Year in the Times
Literary Supplement, Independent and Observer. She is the recipient of a
Cholmondeley Award. Bloodaxe will publish her seventh book Mama Amazonica in

Daniel Sluman

Author Photo 2014Daniel Sluman is a poet and disability rights activist. He co-edited the award-winning disability anthology FTW: Poets against Atos, and was named one of Huffington Post’s Top 5 British Poets to Watch in 2015. His second collection the terrible was published by Nine Arches Press last year.

Coco Inman

Coco Inman is a violinist in her final year at Chetham’s School of Music. She has often appeared as a soloist including with the Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra in Shostokovich’s Violin Concerto. She is also a member of the Saul Quartet whose recent engagements include an appearance at King’s Place in London.

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Ian McMillan and Mona Arshi with music from Blind Monk Trio on Tuesday 18 October 2016, 7-00-8.30

This is our annual collaborative event with the Manchester Literature Festival. The event takes place Tuesday evening 7.00pm on 18 October 2016 at:

Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan is among the UK’s most popular living poets. His books of poems, stories, and non-fiction have drawn audiences for almost forty years. Born in Barnsley in 1956, Ian became a freelance writer, performer and broadcaster in 1981. He worked for years with The Circus of Poets performance poetry group and Versewagon, the world’s first mobile writing workshop, and then with Martyn Wiley as Yakety Yak. Since then he has worked in schools, theatres, arts centres, fields and front rooms. He is the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s weekly poetry programme The Verb and has written comedy for radio and plays for the stage, and has worked extensively for BBC radio and television. He writes weekly columns for The Yorkshire Post and The Barnsley Chronicle. He is an honorary doctor of Sheffield Hallam University, North Staffs Polytechnic, University Centre Barnsley & Huddersfield University and has been a Visiting Professor at Bolton University. Ian has been the poet-in-residence for English National Opera, The Academy of Urbanism, Humberside Police and Barnsley FC. His many books of verse include The Changing Problem (Carcanet, 1980), Dad, the Donkey’s On Fire (Carcanet, 1994), Perfect Catch (Carcanet, 2000), Talking Myself Home (John Murray, 2008), and Jazz Peas (smith|doorstop, 2014). He lives in Barnsley.

Mona Arshi

Mona Arshi was born in West London where she still lives.monaBloodaxephoto
She worked as a Human rights lawyer for a decade before she received a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and won the inaugural Magma Poetry competition in 2011.Mona was a prize winner in the 2013 Troubadour international competition and joint winner of the Manchester Creative writing poetry prize in 2014. Her debut collection  ‘Small Hands’ was published by Pavilion Poetry, Part of Liverpool University Press. ‘Small Hands’ won the  Forward Prize for best first collection in 2015.


Blind Monk Trio

Blind Monk Trio have caused quite a stir over the past couple of years in the Northern jazz scene, putting a fresh spin on the sax/bass/drums trio format.

With influences from the whole history of the genre (Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, FLY) blended with alternative rock beats and eastern folk, Blind Monk Trio present quirky, original compositions along with some surprising arrangements of classic standards.

Difficult to categorise, they are probably best summed up by Barney Stevenson (Director of Marsden Jazz Festival); “Energetic, original and quirky – think John Coltrane meets Led Zeppelin.” Blink Monk Trio are Bob Whittaker on tenor saxophone, Hugo Harrison on double bass and Johnny Hunter on drums.

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Workshop with Pascale Petit 24 September 2016


We are running a workshop on Saturday 24 September from 10.30-12.30 with Pascale Petit at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. The fee for the workshop is £20. There will also be a free reading on the afternoon of the 24 September with Pascale and Daniel Sluman. If you would like to book a place on the workshop please email

Pascale Petit

Photo credit: Derek Adams

Photo credit: Derek Adams

Pascale Petit’s sixth collection Fauverie was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize and
won the Manchester Poetry Prize. Her fifth collection What the Water Gave Me:
Poems after Frida Kahlo was shortlisted for both the T S Eliot Prize and Wales Book
of the Year, and was a Book of the Year in the Observer. Four of her collections were
shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize and chosen as Books of the Year in the Times
Literary Supplement, Independent and Observer. She is the recipient of a
Cholmondeley Award. Bloodaxe will publish her seventh book Mama Amazonica in

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Saturday 21 May 2016, 2.30-4.00, Moniza Alvi, Jonathan Edwards and Cath Nichols, music from Glenn Sharp and Chico Pere

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Our next event will feature poets Moniza Alvi, Jonathan Edwards and Cath Nichols with flamenco music from Glenn Sharp and Chico Pere. The venue is the Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER.

This is a free event open to all and there’s no need to book.

Moniza Alvi

moniza 1Moniza Alvi was born in Pakistan and grew up in Hertfordshire. Her collections include The Country at My Shoulder (1993), shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot and theWhitbread poetry prizes and selected for the Poetry Society’s ‘New Generation Poets’ promotion), Europa (2008) and At the Time of Partition (2013) both also shortlisted for theT.S. Eliot prize. She is working on a new collection, provisionally called Intermediaries. Moniza received a Cholmondeley Award in 2002. She lives in Wymondham where she tutors for the Poetry School.

Jonathan Edwards

P1020161Jonathan Edwards’s first collection, My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren, 2014), received the Costa Poetry Award and the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award. It was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. His poems have received prizes in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition, the Ledbury Festival International Poetry Competition and the Basil Bunting Award, and have appeared in magazines including Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, New Welsh Review and The North. He works as a teacher.

Cath Nichols

cath short hair picCath Nichols has a PhD from Lancaster University and teaches Creative Writing at Leeds University. She was a queer journalist for print and radio in the 90s and started writing poetry in 2000 as drag queen Daisy Buttercup. Her publications include Tales of Boy Nancy (Driftwood, 2005), My Glamorous Assistant (Headland, 2007) and Distance (erbacce, 2012). A second collection, This is Not a Stunt, is forthcoming in 2017. She also writes children’s fiction and is currently developing Rachel, a time-travelling transgender eleven year old, who wants to save Jeanne d’Ay (Joan of Arc) from her fate.

Glenn Sharp and Chico Pere

Glenn Sharp and Chico PereFlamenco singer Chico Pere & flamenco guitarist Glenn Sharp will perform a mixture of traditional flamenco palos and contemporary flamenco rumbas. Based in Seville and Manchester, Chico and Glenn are the founding members of ‘Calaita Flamenco Son’, who released their debut album on Riverboat Records in 2014.

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Results of the 2016 P&P competition judged by Jackie Kay

The winning poems chosen by Jackie Kay*

*All poems entered into the competition, were delivered with no identifying details to Jackie Kay, who read every poem before making her decision.

1st Prize: ‘Tethered’ by Colin Bancroft
2nd Prize: ‘The Wig-Keeper’s Storeroom’ by Ken Evans
3rd Prize: ‘A Student’s Journey’ by David Wilson

Honorable Mention: ‘She Won’t Eat Fiction’ by Tracy Davidson

IMG_5201 IMG_5204

From left to right:Ken Evans (2nd prize), Colin Bancroft (1st prize), Jackie Kay (judge), David Wilson (3rd prize).

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The 1st prize winner, Colin Bancroft and Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay’s comments about the competition

It is perhaps too standard to have judges of various poetry competitions up and down the length and breadth of the country state that the standard for the entries was above standard. But in this instance it really was: way above standard. What was electrifying about this year’s entries for the Poets and Players competition was not just the wide and eclectic range of subject matters – from dictionary eating women, to seamstresses who sew the light, to onion brides, to Beethoven being turned round to see the audience’s applause – but also the range of forms and tones, the many tongues and registers that together created a resonating and distinct entry of poetry. It was difficult to choose – and I could have easily picked another ten commended. I particularly admired a number of strong poems about dementia, and memory, and a number of poems that faced grief head on.

The Poems

First Prize: Colin Bancroft


All I could think about when you told me
That we had lost it, was that night
We spent camping in Braemar
And the wind funnelling down the channel
Between the hills at such a rate
That it bent the tent poles and pushed
The fabric almost into our faces,
As though there were great pressure
Being applied on the outside
And the whole of the world
Was sitting on our refuge, crushing it down.
That crush has come again,
Though different now in the silence
Of the stairs, and the rain is now your sobs
And the wind the startled breaths
You take on my shoulder.
That night I thought that we might blow away.
I could feel the guy ropes burying themselves
Deeper, holding on for dear life,
Knowing that if they weren’t tethered
In the ground that they could end up anywhere.
That tugging is you holding onto my shirt,
Pulling it tightly in your stooped sadness,
Holding you up. As though without a firm
Grip you might take off and end up somewhere
Beyond that valley, that field and these stairs.

Comments from judge Jackie Kay
1st Prize: ‘Tethered’ by Colin Bancroft

First prize is Colin Bancroft’s deeply moving and affecting Tethered. The use of the tethering is a brilliant metaphor for dealing with difficult losses life tosses at you. It perfectly captures the feeling of being out of control, hanging on for dear life, trying to take shelter. The reader isn’t told what the loss is and that is part of the poem’s strength. It is tough. It resonates. And ultimately, it offers solace and hope. Love, here, is stronger than the wind funneling down the channel. Soaring!

Biographical note:

Colin Bancroft is from Manchester but is currently working as an English lecturer in Hartlepool. After studying for an MA at Manchester Metropolitan University he is, at the moment, working on a PhD on the work of Robert Frost. He likes poetry, wrestling, castles and Wensleydale cheese…

Second Prize: Ken Evans

The Wig-Keeper’s Storeroom

Egg-heads, softly cranial, settle to their necks
on shelves under strip-light, pursed lips of
silent prophets awaiting re-birth, blind,
Oedipal, postiches of virgin Russian hair,
grown by girls on follicle diets, sold in swatches
to middle-men. Drawn through the hackle twice,
their ends evened for an equal fall, lustrous
curtains of concealment and reveal, a halo
for the person-to-be to shelter under,
wearer and wig, bonded in sweat and anxiety:
a prosthesis, both like and unlike, ourselves.

Comments from judge Jackie Kay
2nd Prize: ‘The Wig-Keeper’s Storeroom’ by Ken Evans

Second prize is Ken Evan’s brilliantly titled The Wig Keeper’s Storeroom. I loved the unusual glimpse this poem offers the reader into a world they might not know. Not only is the poem dense and thick, as hair drawn through the hackle twice, it asks questions about masks and identity, makes us think of the many reasons people wear wigs, from judges to people recovering from chemotherapy, and interests us in the solitary presence of the wig itself, a mesmerizing halo. It is a tightly knitted, cleverly constructed poem.

Biographical note:

Ken’s debut pamphlet ‘The Opposite of Defeat’ (Eyewear) is launched in June at the Worcester Literature Festival. Ken won a third prize in Poets & Players’ 2014 competition, since when he has been published in Envoi; The Interpreter’s House: Obsessed with Pipework and an anthology for refugees. Ken gained a Distinction in his poetry MA at Manchester University last year. In May he has been accepted on the residential Masterclass with Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke at Ty Newydd, near Criccieth.

Third Prize: David Wilson

A Student’s Journey

My parents told me in my ancestors’ time
state examination candidates got papers,
a day to write down everything they knew,
bowls of rice, and, for those doing badly,
silk rope for their more honourable course.

Reading all hours, I thought of a poor boy,
his ticking rope, his parents’ broken hearts.
I studied engineering, but still we learned
Xu Zhimo’s ‘Leaving Cambridge Again’.
I dreamed of its river shaded by willows.

Sometimes when I study through the night
I think of Newton doing the same nearby;
and of my mother, unable to write her name.
Did I tell you when developers stole our land
she sold her hair to buy my school books.

Comments from judge Jackie Kay
3rd Prize: ‘A Student’s Journey’ by David Wilson

Third prize is David Wilson’s A Student’s Journey. I admired the supple beauty of this poem, it is a paean to education. The details are memorable, startling – the silk rope, the mother having to sell hair in order to buy schoolbooks. It is a dignified, understated poem that makes you think of the sacrifices people will make to have that most important of all things, an education, so that the dream of ‘the river shaded by willows’ can become a reality.

Biographical note:

David Wilson lives in North Yorkshire. He turned to poetry a few years ago after reading ‘Midsummer, Tobago’ by Derek Walcott on the wall of a hospital waiting room in Leeds. His novel ‘Love and Nausea’ is published by Abacus, Little Brown. A pamphlet of his poems about mountaineering, titled A Question of Balance, will be published by Smith/Doorstop in late May. It includes David’s poem Everest, which won last year’s Poets and Players competition.

Honorable Mention

‘She Won’t Eat Fiction’ (Tracy Davidson)

Information about the Competition

351 poets (212 women and 139 men) submitted a total of 848 poems. We offered both postal and online entry options, 62 poets chose to submit by post and 289 online.

This was an excellent and encouraging number and the overall standard was very pleasing. We were delighted to welcome Jackie Kay as our judge, and offer our thanks and appreciation for her enthusiasm, professionalism and attention to detail.

We received entries from all over the United Kingdom with many from Scotland in particular. Overseas entries included: Republic of Ireland, Malta, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Romania, France, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Germany, Nigeria, USA , New Zealand and Australia. A truly international event.

All entries were clearly addressed and, without exception, appropriate payments included. Thank you to all our entrants for your help in this and for your interest in our competition.

Thank you to everyone involved in the organisation, promotion and success of the fourth Poets and Players Competition. Please look out for future announcements about the 2017 competition.

Videos of the winners performing their poems will be available shortly on our Youtube Channel.

Any feedback relating to any aspect of the competition is most welcome.


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Sat 16th April, 2.30 – 4.00 pm – Poems read by Jackie Kay and winners of the Poets and Players poetry competition, music tbc

This event is the prize-giving event for our 4th Poets and Players Competition which was judged by Jackie Kay. The winners will be announced and will read their poems. There will also be a poetry reading by Jackie Kay and music from The Alba Quintet. The venue is the Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER.

This is a free event open to all and there’s no need to book.


Photograph by Mary McCartney

Jackie Kay - credit Mary McCartney - cleared for free UK useJackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. THE ADOPTION PAPERS (Bloodaxe) won the Forward Prize, a Saltire prize and a Scottish Arts Council Prize. FIERE, her most recent collection of poems was shortlisted for the COSTA award. Her novel TRUMPET won the Guardian Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the IMPAC award. RED DUST ROAD (Picador) won the Scottish Book of the Year Award, and the LONDON BOOK AWARD. It was shortlisted for the JR ACKERLEY prize. She was awarded an MBE in 2006, and made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002. Her book of stories WISH I WAS HERE won the Decibel British Book Award.

She also writes for children and her book RED CHERRY RED (Bloomsbury) won the CLYPE award. She has written extensively for stage and television. Her most recent plays MANCHESTER LINES (produced by Manchester Library Theatre) and THE NEW MAW BROON MONOLOGUES (produced by Glasgay) were a great success. Her most recent book is a collection of stories, REALITY, REALITY. She is currently working on her new novel, BYSTANDER. She is Chancellor of the University of Salford and Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.


The Alba quintet is a chamber ensemble of five musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music. The group includes two violins, viola, cello and clarinet, played by Freya Stokoe, Callum Sherriff, Dominic Adams, Lucy Neil and Ruaridh Bakke respectively. We are a group of close friends who met through studying at the RNCM and have since enjoyed exploring the vast and contrasting repertoire written for clarinet quintet(and even having a go at arranging/composing some music for the quintet) and, of course, performing.

(Clockwise from top left: Ruaridh Bakke- Clarinet, Freya Stokoe- Violin, Lucy Neil- Cello, Callum Sherriff- Violin, Dominic Adams- Viola)
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Thursday Lates at the Whitworth: Ira Lightman and Andrew McMillan with music from Heather Bird

Thursday 28th April 2016 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, 7.00-8.30

We are pleased to announce a special event in collaboration with the Whitworth Art Gallery’s Thursday Lates series

Ira Lightman

Photograph copyright Chris Anderson

Photograph copyright Chris Anderson

Ira Lightman is a public art poet. He appears frequently on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, and last year made a Radio 4 documentary about Pound and recession economics. A keen mathematician and ukulele player, he loves performing, especially collaborating and improvising in the moment. His books are Mustard Tart as Lemon (Red Squirrel), Duetcetera (Shearsman), and I, Love Poetry (KFS).  

Andrew McMillan

Copyright: Innes Morrison

Copyright: Innes Morrison

Andrew McMillan was born in South Yorkshire in 1988; his debut collection physical was the first ever poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book Award. The collection also won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. It was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Autumn 2015. In 2014 he received a substantial Northern Writers’ Award. He currently lectures in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University and lives in Manchester.

Heather Bird

Publicitypic1Heather was brought up in the Eden Valley in Cumbria where she was taught flute by a saxophonist, double bass by a cellist and received an eclectic musical education playing in youth orchestras, jazz bands and folk groups. After moving to Manchester she started ventured into acid jazz, and techno alongside orchestral playing.

While studying at the Royal Northern College of Music she continued playing jazz and electronic music outside. She then lived in Angola and Spain playing more jazz, lots of tango and attempting flamenco before returning to the UK in 2010.

Heather founded Classical Evolution in 2011, which brings classical music to forests, beer tents and anywhere you’d least expect to find a chamber ensemble. It all began with a performance of the Dvorak quintet in Matt & Phred’s Jazz Club with violinist Ben Holland. Classical Evolution commissions new works, runs courses and puts on monthly gigs across the UK and New York City, including the only classical open mic night in the UK at Night & Day.

She plays regularly for many orchestras in the UK including Manchester Camerata and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as well as playing lots of chamber music involving non-classical musicians and a diverse range of classical and non classical projects.

Heather likes mountains, books, cheese and spending time with her son Adam and cat Chomsky.

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