Photo: Tinsmith’s Alley, Ledbury – words by local poet Nick Alexander

With Autumn fast approaching, it’s nice to hang on to the memories of Summer. Ledbury Poetry Festival was a major highlight of my summer this year – not least because I got the chance to read in one of the events.

Fellow poet and friend, Jill Abram and I decided to go for the first weekend of the festival this time, rather than the full week, which was quite a tough decision seeing as the programme was choc-a-block with fantastic events. We packed an awful lot in though – highlights included: Jo Bell and Chris McCabe kicking off the festival with dynamic readings from Kith and Speculatrix respectively; Selima Hill‘s angst at having to face an audience once a year, Imtiaz Dharker‘s contrasting effortless charisma; George Sirtzes, Jo Glanville from English Pen and Meirion Jordan discussing Poetry as Protest; Simon Armitage‘s softly spoken venting of the disappointments endured during his journey home to a packed, attentive hall; new press Pavillion Poets‘ showcase readings by Mona Arshi, Sarah Corbett, Eleanor Rees; and a fun, freeing and though-provoking workshop by New York poet and Beat aficionado, George Wallace.

Both Jill and myself were asked to take part in the Maya Angelou Tribute event on Saturday evening in Burgess Hall, reading alongside 10 other poets. We met 20 minutes before the reading to choose which two of Maya‘s poems we each wanted to read. I chose Refusal and The Lesson. It was a great event and a fitting tribute to a wonderfully warm, defiant, loving, and universally loved woman.