THIS year’s poetry festival is set to return with a bang with a range of riddles and rhymes to entertain in the four-day bonanza.

The third festival of literature, which is organised by the BlueGate Poets, will kick off on National Poetry Day on October 2 with a morning of poetry readings in the Central Library.

From 10am people are welcome to come along and read their favourite poems or poems they have written to celebrate the day with Poems Aloud.

A range of different workshops, activities and performances will be scattered around the town until the finale on October 5.

Hilda Sheehan, one of the organisers, said: “There has been a lot of Siwndon-bashing recently and it’s always the butt of every joke, which really annoys me because Swindon has a lot going for it and has a lot of culture.

“Swindon is in fact the capital of poetry. We found out a few years ago that no one had taken the title so we claimed it for ourselves.

“And Swindon does have a growing reputation for poetry and creativity.

“The festival itself was awarded a £15,000 grant from the Arts Council to run this, which I think shows that actually Swindon is a place for culture and poetry.”

This year more big names in the poetical scene are set to descend on the town, including Don Share, the editor of Poetry magazine and the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, and poet Jacquelyn Pope.

Irish poet, Maurice Riordan, who is also the current editor of Poetry Review will also be the focus of one of the talks and workshops, as well as UK-based American poets Kathryn Maris, Robert Peake and Carrie Etter.

Hilda said: “There is a big focus on American poets this year, with a lot of American poets coming to the festival, l including the editor of the Poetry Foundation in Chicago.

“Well also be launching the Domestic Cherry magazine this week, which is just a bit of fun.

“The big finale though will be Diane Torr and her workshop Dress Like A Man, where she’ll teach us to dress and act like a man which will be amazing.”

There will also be sessions on Shakespeare, The Great War, events for children and poetry in film and other spaces.

View the whole programme and book tickets online at

There is also accommodation at Lower Shaw Farm available to book, as well as options for Poetry Passes. For more on the BlueGate Poets visit



  • October 3:  A poetry lunch with Robert Peake – 12.30pm, Lower Shaw Farm
  • October 3 A Reading with Jacquelyn Pope and Carrie Etter – 2.30pm,Lower Shaw Farm
  • October 3:  A Reading with Maurice Riordan and Kathryn Maris – 4pm,  Lower Shaw Farm
  • October 4:  A poetry lunch with Allison McVetty – 12.30pm, Lower Shaw Farm
  • October 4:  Battered Moons with David Morley –  8pm, Arts Centre
  • October 5: A Poetry Lunch with Cliff Yates and Jackie Wills – 2.30pm,  Lower Shaw Farm
  • October 5:  Venus and Adonis, a new reading of Shakespeare's narrative – 6pm, Arts, Centre
  • October 5: Drag King Poetry Night with Diane Torr – 8pm, Arts Centre