Greta Stoddart, A B Jackson and Cheryl Pearson with music from Liam Byrne and Andy Hulme 13 May 2017

Our next event will feature poets Greta Stoddart, A B Jackson, and Cheryl Pearson with music from Liam Byrne and Andy Hulme. The venue is the Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER, time 2.30-4.00.

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

Greta Stoddart

Greta Stoddart was born in Oxfordshire. Her first collection At Home in the Dark (Anvil) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 2002.Her second book, Salvation Jane, was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award 2008. She was also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem in 2012. Her third book, Alive Alive O (Bloodaxe, 2015), was shortlisted for the Roehampton Poetry Prize 2016. She lives in Devon and teaches for the Poetry School and the Arvon Foundation

A B Jackson

A.B. Jackson’s first book, ‘Fire Stations’, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2003. His latest collection is ‘The Wilderness Party’ (Bloodaxe Books, 2015), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. He has a PhD in Creative Writing from Sheffield Hallam University, and currently works at Cambridge University Library.

Cheryl Pearson

Cheryl Pearson lives and writes in Manchester. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Guardian, Envoi, Crannog, High Window, and Southword. In 2016, she won the High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature, and won third prize in Bare Fiction Magazine’s national poetry competition. She was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize. Her first full collection, “Oysterlight”, was published in March 2017 by Pindrop Press.

Liam Byrne and Andy Hulme

Saxophonist Liam Byrne studied at Leeds College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music winning several awards, including the Dave Cooper Memorial Prize for Jazz Saxophone and the ‘Spud Murphy’ Saxophone Prize. He has performed alongside leading British jazz musicians including Alan Barnes, Digby Fairweather, Bruce Adams and Dave O’Higgins. He also co-leads a band with trumpeter Jamie Brownfield which regularly performs across the country at jazz clubs and festivals. Liam has a growing reputation as a torchbearer of the jazz tenor saxophone tradition, with a warm sound and understated aproach inspired by the likes of Lester Young and Ben Webster.

Guitarist Andy Hulme can be heard in various line-ups across Liverpool, Manchester and the North West, including two bands with saxophonist Liam Byrne, and has a long association with North Wales Jazz, performing regularly at concerts and festivals with many internationally renowned musicians including US guitarists Howard Alden and Jack Wilkins, the UK’s John Etheridge and saxophonists Scott Hamilton and Art Themen.

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Prize-giving event with Michael Symmons Roberts with music from Li Lu, 22 April 2017

Please join us for our prize-giving ceremony of the fifth Poets and Players competition. The event is at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester on 22 April 2017 at 2.30-4.00. Our judge, Michael Symmons Roberts will announce the readers who will read their poems. Michael will also read his work. Music from Li Lu. This is a free event and everyone is welcome.

Michael Symmons Roberts

Michael was born in 1963 in Preston, Lancashire, UK.

His poetry has won the Forward Prize, the Costa Poetry Prize and the Whitbread Poetry Award, and been shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize. He has received major awards from the Arts Council and the Society of Authors. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and of the English Association.

His continuing collaboration with composer James MacMillan has led to two BBC Proms choral commissions, song cycles, music theatre works and operas for the Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Welsh National Opera. Their WNO commission – ‘The Sacrifice’ – won the RPS Award for opera, and their Royal Opera House / Scottish Opera commission – ‘Clemency’ – was nominated for an Olivier Award.

His broadcast work includes ‘A Fearful Symmetry’ – for Radio 4 – which won the Sandford St Martin Prize, and ‘Last Words’ commissioned by Radio 4 to mark the first anniversary of 9/11.

He has published two novels, and is Professor of Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Li Lu

Li Lu, Cellist BA WCM, PGDip RNCM. Originally from China, Li Lu describes herself as ‘a cellist with wings, an artist with a bow and an adventurer with a cello’. Classically trained, as a soloist and orchestra musician, performance highlights include appearances at the Edinburgh International Festival, the Singapore International Music Festival, the Beijing Modern Music Festival and the Kronburg International Cello Festival in Germany. Li Lu’s artistic life took a new direction when she accepted a challenge to travel across Europe in 35 days from Athens to Edinburgh, purely surviving on playing the cello. Her performances were featured in a Sky Arts documentary Art of Survival (2011), reaching a vast audience in the UK and internationally.

Li Lu’s adventure made her want to connect more with a nonclassical audience, especially to children, and it reawakened a long-held fascination with design and the visual arts. This has led her into a number of unconventional musical collaborations. In recent years, her theatrical interpretation of the Bach Cello Suites has been under long-term development. In addition to her exciting performing career, Li Lu works with Chetham’s School of Music where she enjoys teaching young music talents.

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Workshop with Steve Ely, 22 April 2017

We are hosting a workshop at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester on Saturday 22 April 2017 at 10.30-12.30. The fee is £20. Please email to reserve a place and for details of how to pay.

Steve Ely’s books include Oswald’s Book of Hours, Englaland, Werewolf & Ted Hughes’s South Yorkshire.  He  lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield where he is Director of the Ted Hughes Network.  Incendium Amoris, a book of poems arising from the writings, life and landscape of Richard Rolle, the ‘hermit of Hampole’ will be published by Smokestack Books in June.

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P&P commission: Helen Mort

The following poem was commissioned by Poets & Players on the theme of ‘No Boundaries’ (inspired by ACE’s initiative of the same name):


the wire pulls taut
the wire is a single thought
the wire is a line in pencil
through my name on the ringmaster’s list

neat flick-of-the-wrist….I close
my eyes………rub it out……my body
goes before me like a shout in a dark cave

down there……counted rows of seats
overhead……..a tapered roof
the colour of boiled sweets

music muted as I balance
sway……….my arms above my head
the fat announcer…….miles away

Will Bartek reach the other side
and win the right to stay? Folks,
you decide!

some of them lob……..oranges
some chuck bricks…….all of them
miss….sing songs….throw curses
in their single tongue

the wire is a note
the wire is an open throat
I drew the wire in the sand at Sopot as a child
until the sea went wild and wanted the beach back

slow clap…….I’m halfway
wobbling in the centre of the ring
a sawdust stink………glass breaks
behind the bar

Guys, no-one else has got this far!
Can Bartek make it
and become a citizen?

lights swim… blank face
steady steps….slow
pace….the circus in me
like a seam…..I’m stitched to air

the wire is a word no-one said
the wire is a hole in the head
the wire is a line of piss trickling down my leg

one side……..sunlight
one side……..strangers willing me
to fall

the questionscameras
afterwards……I say
I’ve done this
my whole life
that’s all

Helen Mort, March 2017 (from ‘Austerity Circus’)

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Matthew Welton and Luke Kennard with music from MICHAELBRAILEY, Thursday Late 6 April 2017 7.00-8.30

Our next event will be a Thursday Late featuring poets Matthew Welton and Luke Kennard with music from MICHAELBRAILEY. The venue is the Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER, time 7.00-8.30.

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

Luke Kennard

lk-portrait-12Luke Kennard is a poet and novelist who lives and works in Birmingham. His first book, The Solex Brothers, won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2005. His second, The Harbour Beyond the Movie made him the youngest writer to be shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2007. He has also published two chapbooks, Planet Shaped Horse (Nine Arches, 2011) and The Necropolis Boat (Holdfire Press, 2012) which won the Poetry Book Society’s Autumn pamphlet choice in 2012. His 5th collection of poems, Cain, was published by Penned in the Margins in 2016. His literary criticism has appeared in the TLS, Poetry London and The National. He has a PhD in English from the University of Exeter and lectures at the University of Birmingham. In 2014 he was named one of the Next Generation Poets by the Poetry Book Society in their once per-decade list. His first novel, The Transition, was published by 4th Estate in 2017

Matthew Welton

Matthew Welton was born in Nottingham, lives in Nottingham and lectures in creative writing at the University of Nottingham. His writing practice includes collaborations with musicians, visual artists and other writers. His interest in poetry has to do with explorations of the sounds of words and the possibilities of repetition. He has published three books with Carcanet: The Book of Matthew (2003), ‘We needed coffee but…’ (2009) and The Number Poems (2016). Recognition includes an Eric Gregory Award, the Jerwood-Aldeburgh Prize, second place in the Arvon Poetry Competition 2002 and a Poetry Book Society recommendation


michael brailey new1MICHAELBRAILEY is a producer, composer and vocalist from Exeter, UK, currently studying at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester with Larry Goves, under scholarship and as a recipient of the RNCM’s Grindon/Dearden Prize For Composition (2016). He is also the curator of VIRTUALLYREALITY, an event series dedicated to the championing and commissioning of new electronic and acoustic music from composers and producers alike.

His vast musical output has been recognised by organisations and individuals including the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, regarding him as Principal Composer in 2014, Seattle-based record label Hush Hush Records with the releases ‘Pericardial’ (2014) and ‘Weekend’ (2016), pioneering independent radio station KEXP, Los Angeles-based producer Kastle with the THUMP-supported 2016 single ‘The Future’, and by the London-based record label Nonclassical as a DJ and remixer.

MICHAELBRAILEY’s signature electronic sound is highly personal, mixing intimate, digitally-degraded piano lines with distorted, panoramic synths, whilst delicate ASMR-like jitters and fragile falsetto lyrics glisten on top, and smouldering bass – kicks, groans and cataclysms – move beneath. 

His concert music usually features acoustic instruments and often incorporates electronic sound or uses technology to inhibit, extend or mediate soloistic performance and ensemble interaction. It has been performed by ensembles such as the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and The Aurora Orchestra in venues across the UK. These include the Royal Festival Hall, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Sage Gateshead, Whitworth Art Gallery, The Royal College of Music and Birmingham Symphony Hall, as well as part of the New Music North West Festival 2015 at The Royal Northern College of Music.

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Jane Draycott, Helen Mort and Andy Hickmott with music from Arian Sadr 18 March 2017

Our next event will feature poets Jane Draycott, Helen Mort (who P&P have commissioned to write a poem in line with ACE’s initiative ‘no boundaries’), and Andy Hickmott with music from Arian Sadr. The venue is the Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER, time 2.30-4.00.

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

Jane Draycott

Photo credit: Jemimah Kuhfeld

Photo credit: Jemimah Kuhfeld

Jane Draycott’s new collection The Occupant, is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. One of its poems was awarded second place in the National Poetry Competition and another was winner of the 2014 Hippocrates International Prize for Poetry and Medicine. Her first collection was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. In 2002 she was the winner of the Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry. Her third collection was shortlisted for the 2009 T.S. Eliot Prize, and her translation of the 14th-century Pearl is a PBS Recommendation and winner of a Stephen Spender Prize for Translation. Penelope Shuttle has described her as “an impeccable and central poetic intelligence”. You can visit her website at

Helen Mort

helen-mortHelen Mort was born in Sheffield. Her first collection ‘Division Street’ was shortlisted for the Costa Prize & the T.S. Eliot Prize. In 2014, she won the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize. Her new collection ‘No Map Could Show Them’ (Chatto & Windus, 2016) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. She writes a blog called ‘Freefall.’ Helen is also a runner and the author of ‘Lake District Trail Running’ and a lecturer at the Manchester Writing School.

 Andy Hickmott

profile-pictureAndy Hickmott is currently poet-in-residence for Ancoats Dispensary Trust. He has published three chapbooks: A Limited Season (erbacce-press, 2013), The Reedy Boy and in:dispensable (both Original Plus, 2015), and has won prizes in the York and Wenlock poetry competitions. He was awarded a New Fiction Bursary in the 2016 Northern Writers’ Awards. His poems have appeared in Poetry News, Orbis, The Journal, South, The Interpreter’s House and Popshot. A 45-minute animated film version of his poet-fable The Reedy Boy, funded by the Arts Council, was shown in Manchester in November. Originally from Kent, Andy made Manchester his permanent home.

Arian Sadr

fb_img_1480950238674Arian Sadr has been enthusiastic about music since childhood and particularly interested in Persian percussions. He has been mesmerised by music and passionate in his studies of instruments for many years. He started learning Tonbak (Persian goblet drum) and Daf (a circular frame drum) when he was seven. He moved to England to study music and music production in 2003. By this time he also became interested in a variety of styles of music that influenced him to create his own original fusion style. Apart from being a successful percussionist he is a songwriter, composer and producer. He has played as a solo artist as well as collaborating with other musicians in many concerts and charity events. His performances include the ‘Musicians Without Borders’ at End Sexual Violence in Conflict Event, ExCel project in London funded by the Home Office, he performed with musicians from BBC Philharmonic in a special performance to celebrate BBC Music Day (live on BBC Radio 3 in 2015), and Manchester Imperial War Museum as Part of Asia Triennial, International Root Orchestra and also a collaboration with “Project Jam Sandwich” at Royal Northern College Of Music Manchester, an extraordinary performance at “Tea&Zen 2013″ event at Worldwide IBPS Fo Guang Shan Temple Manchester and many other overwhelming organisations in the U.K.


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Jane Yeh, Hannah Lowe and Ian Humphreys with music from Gavin Barras, 25 February 2017

Our next event will feature poets Jane Yeh, Hannah Lowe and Ian Humphreys with music from Gavin Barras on double bass accompanied by Jeff Guntrun on sax, Jim Faulkner on guitar and Dave Walsh on drums. The venue is the Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER, time 2.30-4.00

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

Jane Yeh

Photo credit: StateShots London

Photo credit: StateShots London


Jane Yeh is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Open University. Her first collection of poems, Marabou, was shortlisted for the Whitbread, Forward, and Aldeburgh poetry prizes. She was named a Next Generation poet by the Poetry Book Society for her second collection, The Ninjas, which was published by Carcanet in 2012. She lives in London.

Hannah Lowe

 Hannah Lowe’s first poetry collection Chick won the Michael Murphy Memorial Award for Best First Collection and was short-listed for the Forward, Aldeburgh and Seamus Heaney Best First Collection Prizes. In September 2014, she was named as one of 20 Next Generation poets. She has also published three chapbooks, and a memoir Long Time No See. Her latest poetry collection is Chan.

Ian Humphreys

photo_15After moving to West Yorkshire from London, Ian Humphreys began writing poetry and prose in 2013. His work has featured in anthologies and magazines including Poetry News, Ambit and The Rialto. He won the 2016 Hamish Canham Prize and the PENfro Open Poetry Competition in 2013. His fiction has been shortlisted three times for the Bridport Prize. Ian holds an MA in Creative Writing from MMU and is a fellow of the Complete Works III, which promotes diversity and quality in British poetry. A portfolio of his poems will be published in a Bloodaxe anthology in late 2017.

Gavin Barras

Gavin is a professional double bass and electric bass player, performing regularly throughout the UK and abroad in a variety of performing and recording projects.

In March 2017 Gavin will release his solo album  The Family Tree on  ASC Records featuring Jeff Guntrun on tenor saxophone, Jim Faulkner on guitar and Dave Walsh on drums. This new album features the double bass Gavin’s father built for him over a 15 year period. It is a fantastic instrument which sounds even better than it looks! On two short interlude tracks Gavin plays a steel string acoustic guitar also built by his father back in 1967. Recorded at 80 Hertz Studios in Manchester, ‘The Family Tree’ contains ten original compositions by Gavin influenced by the themes of fatherhood, friendship and home.

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