Workshop with Sasha Dugdale: 21 September 2019

Workshop with Sasha Dugdale on Saturday 21 September 2019, 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.

Join Sasha Dugdale to explore several of Anna Akhmatova’s love poems and then write a translation or version of one of them, or write your own poem inspired by her work. No knowledge of Russian is needed for this workshop.

The fee is £20. Please email to confirm a place. Once your place has been confirmed payment can be made by cheque or by using the PayPal button below:

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Sasha Dugdale

Sasha Dugdale has published four collections of poems with Carcanet, most recently Joy in 2017 which was a PBS Choice. The title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2016. She is a Russian translator and is currently working on translations of the Russian poet Maria Stepanova to be published by Bloodaxe and Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2020. She is former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation and poet-in-residence at St John’s College, Cambridge (2018-2020). In 2017 she was awarded a Cholmondeley Prize for poetry.

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Sasha Dugdale, James Byrne and Kathryn Bevis with music from Alex Smith & Hannah Fry: 21 September 2019

Free event at the Whitworth Art Gallery on Saturday 21 September at 2.30-4.00. Everyone welcome.

Sasha Dugdale

Sasha Dugdale has published four collections of poems with Carcanet, most recently Joy in 2017 which was a PBS Choice. The title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2016. She is a Russian translator and is currently working on translations of the Russian poet Maria Stepanova to be published by Bloodaxe and Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2020. She is former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation and poet-in-residence at St John’s College, Cambridge (2018-2020). In 2017 she was awarded a Cholmondeley Prize for poetry.

James Byrne

James Byrne is a poet, editor and translator. His most recent poetry collections are The Caprices (2019), Everything Broken Up Dances (Tupelo, 2015) and White Coins (Arc Publications, 2015). His other publications include Blood/Sugar (Arc, 2009), plus the pamphlets WITHDRAWALS (KFS, 2019), Soapboxes and Myths of the Savage Tribe (a co-authored text with Sandeep Parmar) both published in 2014.

Byrne received an MFA in Poetry from New York University, where he was given a Stein Fellowship (‘Extraordinary International Scholar’). He was the Poet in Residence at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge. He lives near Liverpool where he is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Edge Hill University.

He is the International Editor for Arc Publications and was editor of The Wolf, which he co-founded, from 2002-2017, publishing many international poets. In 2012, with ko ko thett, Byrne co-translated and co-edited Bones Will Crow, the first anthology of contemporary Burmese poetry to be published in English (Arc, 2012, Northern Illinois University Press, 2013) and, in 2019, he co-edited I am a Rohingya, the first anthology of Rohingya poetry in English. He is renowned for his commitment to international poetries and poetics. His poems have been translated into several languages including Arabic, Burmese and Chinese. His Selected Poems (Poemas Escogidos) is published in Spanish by Buenos Aires Poetry, translated by Katherine M. Hedeen and Víctor Rodríguez Núñez. Byrne has given poetry readings across the world, at festivals in countries such as Libya, Myanmar, Syria, across Europe and the United States.

Of Everything Broken Up Dances the American poet and translator Forrest Gander has written that reading Byrne’s poetry is ‘like gulping firewater shots of the world’:  The poet John Kinsella wrote: ‘James Byrne is a phenomenon and Blood/Sugar is astonishing…He is a complete original.’

Kathryn Bevis

Kathryn Bevis is an emerging poet and educator.  Born in 1975, she read English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford.  She founded The Writing School in Winchester and hosts a Poetry for Wellbeing project for service users of the mental health charity Mind, funded by Arts Council England.   Awards in 2019 include first prize in the Poets and Players competition, third prize in the Welshpool Poetry Festival competition, and runner up in the Out-Spoken Prize for Poetry.


Music from Alex Smith & Hannah Fry from the Royal Northern College of Music

Alex Smith is a freelance percussionist and teacher based in Manchester. He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, and graduated with a first class honours degree in 2018.

His performing career spans a wide range of musical contexts, including: symphony and opera orchestras, musical theatre bands (drum kit & percussion), and solo/chamber ensemble performance in a variety of musical genres.

Originally from a background in Brass Bands, at the age of 18 Alex became the principle tuned percussionist of the prestigious Black Dyke Brass Band, with whom he toured to several European countries, and had a host of competition success, culminating in winning the European Brass Band Championships in 2015. Since then, Alex has worked freelance with many renowned orchestras, ensembles and conductors. Recent highlights include performances with Buxton Opera Festival, Backbeat Percussion Ensemble and German opera company ‘Szene 12’. 

As a solo and chamber musician, Alex has performed across the world in various festivals and concert series’. Most notably is his tour with the RNCM Percussion Ensemble to China in which the ensemble was awarded First Prize in the Chamber Music category of the China National Percussion Festival, and Alex was awarded 5th place in the Solo Marimba category. As well as this, he has toured to Portugal with saxophone and percussion duo “Melia Duo” after they were invited to give recitals as part of the European Saxophone Congress.

Alex regularly performs Solo Marimba and Percussion recitals across the north of England, with repertoire ranging from baroque arrangements to newly commissioned and self composed works.

Hannah Fry is a versatile multi-instrumentalist based in London. Receiving regular tuition from Rob Buckland, Carl Raven, and Chris Swann, Hannah graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music with a First-Class Honours Degree in Saxophone Performance in 2016. Whilst studying, she also received tutelage from Vincent David, Tim Garland, and John Harle, as well as performing under the direction of a number of renowned musicians including Pete Long, and Sir Mark Elder at the BBC Proms.

Since completing her studies, Hannah has cultivated her passion for Musical Theatre. Joining the London Musical Theatre Orchestra in 2017, Hannah has had the opportunity to perform with the orchestra on a number of projects, making her West End debut with the group earlier this year and previously working with the orchestra for the performance and live cast recording of Howard Goodall’s Girlfriends. She also joined Patrick Kennedy’s Phenomenological Theatre Company for the European Premiere of Elephant Steps at the Arcola Theatre, and regularly records saxophone and woodwind tracks for the YouTube Channel Emergency Covers.

Hannah is also an award-winning chamber musician, performing across the UK and Europe with a number of ensembles. She performed at both the World Saxophone Congress, Strasbourg, and ClarinetFest, Madrid, in 2015 with the RNCM Saxophone Ensemble and the Ebonites respectively; covered the soprano chair in the Abelia Saxophone Quartet for a UK tour in 2016, culminating in the premier of four new works as the featured ensemble of the RNCM Gold Medal Competition; and is one half of the Melia Duo, with whom she regularly performs throughout the UK. Hannah is also a founding member of the Ignition Orchestra, with whom she has had the pleasure of performing at venues such as the Barbican and the Eventim Apollo with the stars of the UK Garage Scene, including Masters of Ceremonies, Miss Dynamite, and Mike Skinner. In March Hannah recorded an album with the group, which will be released under Sony’s Since ’93 label after its launch at the Royal Albert Hall later in the year.

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Competition Winners’ Poems & Videos 2019

The competition winners selected by Kei Miller

First Prize: ‘Happiness’ by Kathryn Bevis

Second Prize: ‘Night in Black and Gold’  by Lauren Garland

Third Prize: ‘The Wonder’ by Anna Kisby

Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)

’Brother Lawrence explains his coming to faith’ by Lydia Harris

‘How to be a Mystic’ by Pauline Plummer


First Prize: Kathryn Bevis

Kathryn Bevis is an emerging poet and educator.  She is founder of The Writing School in Winchester and hosts a Poetry for Wellbeing project for service users of the mental health charity Mind, funded by Arts Council England.  Kathryn was a runner up in the Out-Spoken Prize for Poetry, 2019.





After Terence Hayes

It’s in the damp whorl of biscuit-scented hair on the—–nape
of a newborn or in the mint of Sunday new potatoes which—–shine
under their lick of butter. It’s watching for the—–phases
of the moon, the intentional way it swells and arcs, shrinks and—–spins;
it is your breath’s humidity in this bed of ours, a solid—–ship
that rocks us in the dark, or in the steam that rises from the compost—–heap
on winter evenings. It’s in the winking silk of a spider’s web against the misted—–pane
or in coffee, sweetened with its glob of honey, drunk outdoors in smoking—–sips
from the Thermos lid. It’s in our sense that, whatever—–happens
now is who we might become, this walk together in the woods, these plump—–shapes
of dripping malachite moss, that fiddlehead of the fern’s curled—–spine.

There is a video of Kathryn reading her poem here

Second Prize: Lauren Garland

Lauren Garland is a student on the MA programme in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her recent work explores friendship and visual art. Lauren’s poetry has been published in magazines including Butcher’s Dog and Poetry Salzburg Review. She was commended in the 2018 McLellan Poetry Prize and her collaboration with composer Aaron Breeze won the 2019 Rosamond Prize. Lauren is on Twitter as @GarlandLauren

Night in Black and Gold
After James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Tonight I leaned at the office window as slate grey smoke
choked an ash white sky—-the fire at the recycling plant

on Frederick Road—-it drew me back to this nocturne—-the night
in black and gold—-those clouds hurling their moods around

like frustrated artists—-I swear I see figures in the water
reflected somehow but it doesn’t make sense—-and a phoenix

or a ghost ship exploding—-you reckon they’re fireworks
you’re probably right—-we hover like this by any given

masterpiece—-at any tower block window—-colouring the world
over half pints of ale—-remember our night in the ‘70s club

the minutes we spent sketching tangerines—-I showed you
my scribbles in orange and grey—-you taught me to shade

it was cold—-still December—-we necked Campari—-shimmied
round our bar stools to Stevie Wonder—-some guy

took our picture—-and later—-huddled at the bus stop—-we burned
through a couple of Marlborough Gold—-scorched the black canvas

There is a video of Lauren reading her poem here

Third Prize: Anna Kisby

Anna Kisby is a Devon-based poet, archivist and author of the pamphlet ‘All the Naked Daughters’ (Against the Grain Press, 2017). She is currently a Research Associate in Creative Writing at Bristol University. Her poem ‘The Wonder’ was written for the project Creative Histories of Witchcraft 1790-1940. You can learn more about this project at:


The Wonder
Louise Lateau, stigmatic, 1850-1883

There was no blood.
There was no mud
upon her hem.
There was no floor.
She walked on air
or not.

There was no door.
There was no time
for awe. No needles
raining from the sky.
She did not lie. She did not
cry. There was no salt.

Dust did not dance
in sunlight when
the shutters were not
drawn. She did not wear
a coronet, a daisy chain,
a crown.

There was no hope
so green it pricked
the hills. There were no bells
of church or far-off herd.
No stink of flock. There was
no clot. She did not fall.

There was no call
for you to come.
You should not look.
There was no talk
of fraud, no thought
but Lord. She did not

remember the nights
we did not feed her.
There was no bread
inside her sleeve, nor razor
up her glove. She
was not dead.

She never lived. No doubt
there was no doubt.
No wonder
there was wonder.

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Important announcement re Competition Event

We are sorry to have to announce that owing to unforeseen personal circumstances, Kei Miller has had to withdraw from the Competition Event on 18 May. As previously advised the judging process was successfully completed and we would like to thank Kei for selecting the wonderful winning poems.

In view of the short notice we have decided, with great regret, that we have little alternative but to cancel the event. We sincerely apologise for any disappointment this will cause, to both our audience and the competition winners. We will announce details of the winning poets and poems as promised by 18 May.

Our next scheduled event is 21 September and the line-up will include the first prize winner (full line-up will be revealed nearer the time). We look forward to seeing our regular supporters as well as new friends at this event.

Finally, we would like to thank all those who entered the competition and everyone who kindly shared our posts and helped publicise it. As a voluntary organisation we are continually reminded of the importance of the support from the community of poets in Manchester and beyond.

With warm wishes,

The Poets & Players team


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Competition Winners 2019

We have now had the results of our competition and the winners have been contacted. Please accept our apologies for the delay and our appreciation for your patience. Thank you to all who entered. The P&P team

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Update for competition entrants

Just to update all of those waiting to hear whether or not they have been placed in the competition. I’m afraid we are still awaiting the final decision. Apologies for any inconvenience.

The P&P team

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Message for competition entrants

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are unable to notify the competition winners today, as originally promised. Please accept our apologies. As soon as we are in a position to do so we will post again to say that all the winners have been informed.

The P&P team


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Reimagining the City: a commission by Mona Arshi, Will Harris, Maryam Hessavi & Degna Stone

Earlier this year Poets & Players commissioned Mona Arshi, Maryam Hessavi, Will Harris and Degna Stone to write a poem based on the topic ‘Reimagining the City’. The poets were given free reign to interpret this in any way they wished. We are delighted to present the following four poems:

Mona Arshi

Gateway of India

‘…speaking of other cities, I have already lost it one by one.’ Calvino


It’s early, the traffic volume still low, Kismet Coaches are arriving as I pass the sweepers along the railings, the chai wallahs stacking their perspex cups, smoking their morning beedi’s and I pass the still sleeping bodies-a man using the foam of his flip-flops for a pillow, a few beggars rising from the smoke. Around the perimeter the snack shops are selling Joos, phone cards and triple-blade razors. I step aside to avoid the speedy-boys in their brown and cream uniforms, their wire trolleys straining under the weight of the packages. The ladies’ entrance is closed this morning so I join the one easy moving queue behind a woman wearing a death before decaf! T-shirt and after security, incongruously step on a little patch of carpet that welcomes me into the square.

Under the triumphant arch, a row of apertures are filled with pigeons standing like sentry guards, each  of their ragged backs against the  Arabian Sea-these most revolutionary of birds are as maddening here as in any other city. The birds own this place; the pigeons, and the gulls that swarm in batches not unlike starlings, over the turrets of the old basalt gate, the harbour water and around the hotel. The Taj has erected anti-roosting spikes, aviary netting and every conceivable device but these birds are insistent as the Indian sun which now disrobes itself from the clouds as the Mumbai morning comes fully into the square. The last battalion of British troops left this spot in 1948. Two decades later and less than a mile from here, my father set sail on an Italian ship.


Will Harris

Half Got Out

I was reading a poem by
Ben Jonson where a
newborn half got out sees
the city burning and
decides to crawl back
into its mother’s womb
thine urn  he calls it
it was Tuesday morning
I’d just seen Leo near
Leicester Square he
was reading a book by
W. S. Merwin a poet
himself newly returned
to his dead mother’s
womb  I was feeling so
anxious Leo said  kind of
low when I started to
read him it felt like I found
him at just the right time
I’m not sure but don’t
parents always talk of
their children arriving at
just the right time like
you might describe
finding your flip flops
just before a beach
holiday yes I said to Leo
he wrote that poem
didn’t he that sad dad
poem that starts

My friend says I was not a good son
you understand
I say yes I understand

he says I did not go
to see my parents very often you know
and I say yes I know

I love the way the
dialogue loops back in
on itself the way you
know the poet is really
talking to or about
themselves it hurts to
read it it reminds me
I could be seeing my
parents right now who
live ten stops away  yes
half an hour but I’m
not and what else am I
not doing knowing
really knowing from
my top down to my
toes from whose bourne
they’ll not return  you
have to work though you
have to make a living don’t
you that may be true I
don’t know I left the
library in light rain to

meet Linda for a drink
at The Chandos and she
told me her granddad
used to go to Richmond
Park to fish he was a
wireless operating
sergeant during the war
it’s not like she cares it’s
just funny you know
even if she had a
Victoria Cross taped to
her forehead it wouldn’t
stop those dickheads at
the bar from asking if
she’s Latino or something
I fucking hate this city you
understand I say yes
I understand  but I don’t
know how to leave I say yes
I know I mean sorry
I don’t know I don’t
know how to leave or
where I’d even go

I looped back to enter
the tube at Leicester
Square stepping over the
body of a homeless man
to travel further again
from my mother’s
womb to Turnpike Lane
the word interred echoing
in my head how many
acres of earth were there
above me then the
whole city might have
been burning I could
already have been dead

there’s no going back my dad
said but how many times
have I crossed the point
of no return only to
crawl back down King
St or Goldhawk Rd
to eat chicken noodle
soup and talk about seat
cushions from Lidl  yes
I know they’re good value
thank you for dinner thank
you half got out and
half enwombed I know
that’s just the way it is I
understand the tube
threading me like a
complex stitch beneath
and through the city
back to the house we’ve
been sharing lately
when I got in I said I’m
home and you said  yes
I know and then you
filled the kettle and sat
down next to me and


Maryam Hessavi

red cities

I came to this planet earth
with cherries hanging on my ears

and I was not a girl.
I am also that girl.

I followed the path of the horse’s gallop,
by a setar that played without strings

and I was not a musician. I am
also that hand that plays. The man

dropped a coin for my sound.
I am that man. The glint rolled as sound

loaded a horn so loud it banged
and worth was fashioned  well. I am

a bursted eardrum. The ear felt
wind sigh past. Wind cuts across

the ear. That ear is me.
The ear is a house that rests

on water with stilts that wobble.
Those stilts are me. And that house

belongs to me. Mine in my name
and my body. The body is

me   where no maps are drawn.
The pencil belongs to me. I am

the belonger, and he is mine and me. Mine
is a home of cherry trees and they are

sharpened. I am the stone from one
eaten. That meal is me and I kneel

before the mouth that does.
Teeth are me. Gums.

The tongue is enough.
I am taste buds and they

flower an orchard every June.
I am June. My Mother is Joon.

Joon is a place over bitter seas.
I am that. I do not sail past  blue lines.

————————————       ————* Joon, meaning ‘dear’ in Farsi


Degna Stone

The city was killing us so we tore it down

When the old city fell, we were covered in scars
but the healing had not made us stronger,

it had only made us scared. We were on the edge
of a dark age and the city had been a place to hide.

Now that the old tech doesn’t work, we’re back
to our most basic selves. Almost animal,

forming connections to the landscape
we’d tried to concrete over.

We are rebuilding without blueprints,
using instinct to create spaces to flourish.

We’ve learned to live without the old statues.
Their plinths lie empty, public notices read:

This monument has been removed until
we can find a way to put it into context.

It’s coincidence that the typeface is crimson,
though it reminds us of the times we barely

escaped through streets glittered with blood.
The truth gets less painful each time we hear it.

We’re not changing the story, only the telling.
Weaving new fables to keep our children safe.

We’ve made a home in this new city, where before
there was only shelter. Found balance,

if not yet peace.

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Workshop with Keith Hutson

Workshop with Keith Hutson on Saturday 18 May 2019, 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. The fee is £20. Please email to confirm a place. Once your place has been confirmed payment can be made by cheque or by using the PayPal button below:

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Keith Hutson

Keith has written for Coronation Street and for several well-known comedians. His plays have been performed at venues including The Royal Exchange, Manchester.

Since beginning to submit his poetry five years ago, Keith has had over 150 poems published in journals. He has also had competition successes including being longlisted twice for the National Poetry Competition, shortlisted for the Wordsworth Trust Prize, and a winner in the Poetry Business Yorkshire Prize.

Keith tours extensively with Carol Ann Duffy, recently the Edinburgh Book Festival, Durham Festival and the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank.

Keith’s debut pamphlet, Routines, was published in 2016 by Poetry Salzburg (where Keith is now on the Editorial Board) followed by a smith doorstop pamphlet, Troupers (2018) which was selected by Carol Ann as a Laureate’s Choice. His debut full collection, Baldwin’s Catholic Geese, was published by Bloodaxe in February 2019.

He delivers poetry and performance workshops for the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and for the Square Chapel Arts Centre Halifax.

These poems illuminate something timeless about the human spirit. Keith Hutson is a wonderful talent – his technically accomplished and hardworking poems arrive all of a piece, centre stage. Carol Ann Duffy on Baldwin’s Catholic Geese.



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CANCELLED: Competition Event with Kei Miller, music from Daphne Duo: 18 May 2019


Please come along to our annual competition event where judge Kei Miller will announce the winners who will read their winning poems. Kei will also do a reading of his own work. The venue is the Whitworth Art Gallery, time 2.30-4.00. The event is free and everyone is welcome.

Kei Miller is a poet, novelist, essayist, short story writer and broadcaster. His many books include the novel Augustown (W&N, 2016) and poetry collection The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion (Carcanet, 2014) which won the Forward Prize (Best Poetry Collection of 2014). In 2010, the Institute of Jamaica awarded him the Silver Musgrave medal for his contributions to Literature. He has a PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow and is currently a Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Exeter.  Kei Miller is represented by Renaissance One

Daphne Duo

Oscar Tabor started learning the violin at the age of 4, due to the influence of his older sister’s piano playing. His love for music was further impassioned by the tuition of Dr Robert Jacoby, with whom he started learning at the age of 9. In the years that followed, Oscar played solos with the Dorset Chamber Orchestra and performed in concerts and competitions in and around the South West of England, often with musical members of his family.

Oscar currently studies at the Royal Northern College of Music and is taught by the Czech violinist and composer Pavel Fischer. Fischer’s love for Eastern European folk music has since inspired Oscar to play a wider range of genres. These include working with the Klezmer band Kibitz, and managing a gypsy jazz outfit named the Misophone collective. In Oscar’s 3rd year studying at the Royal Northern, he met Marcus Forster, and their mutual love for a myriad of genres led to them to the forming the Daphne Duo.

Young guitarist Marcus Forster first took to the electric and bass guitar playing various styles and fusions from blues and folk to rock and metal, performing and recording with bands throughout his home county of Northumberland. At the age of twelve, Marcus turned his interest to focus on the classical guitar.

After graduating from school, Marcus had a short but fruitful career in arboriculture before beginning a Bachelor of Music degree in 2015, studying under the renowned guitarist Craig Ogden at the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Marcus is currently in the fourth year of his undergraduate degree.

Daphne Duo appears by kind permission of the RNCM.

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