Peppy Scott, member of the organising committee for the Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival, gives us a flavour of what to expect at this year’s festival. From BBC acclaimed poetry slam headliner Harry Baker to local performers and workshops, the festival aims to offer ‘Poetry for all, big or small!’

Have you ever read a poem aloud? If you have chanted nursery rhymes, recited a prayer or sung some favourite lyrics in the shower, then the answer is yes. Poetry is rooted in our lives and this is what we celebrate as the Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival brings ‘Poetry to All, Big or Small’. You are invited to join us from June 1-18.

Of course, we know that (almost) everyone hated poetry at school, because we did too! So we run grassroots events that are truly accessible to people who might think they don’t like poetry, while also offering stimulating material to those who know they love it. In addition, our big name headline speakers are selected to appeal to seasoned poetry audiences and newcomers alike, as we share as widely as possible this beautiful means of communication.

Returning for its third year as a multi-event festival, the TWPF originated as a one-off gathering of local poets brought together by Sarah Miles of Paper Swans Press. The baton was then handed to the Tunbridge Wells-based Kent & Sussex Poetry Society, who became sponsors of the festival when a small group of members volunteered to organise it.

At the heart of the festival is the opportunity for participation via a series of free Vocal & Live events with regular open mic hosts from the thriving local spoken word scene. Taking place in some of the town’s most popular cafes and pubs, all are invited to share their words or just to enjoy the diverse range of speakers and entertainers. Poems can be about anything and delivered in any style, from the confessional to the comedic. First-timers are warmly welcomed alongside experienced speakers.

Writing workshops also offer the chance for direct participation. These include an international link-up with New York as well as classes set in such inspiring locations as art studios and the great outdoors of the nearby Ashdown Forest. For those who just enjoy reading and listening to poetry, there will be a number of reading events, talks and performances to savour and reflect on. Subjects to intrigue, inform and amuse range from dead celebrities through the publication process to nature and the environment. We are keeping ticket prices low – we want you to be there!

Rounding off the festival is a free, all-ages afternoon of relaxed creative activity and entertainment at the Forum on Sunday June 18. Be as creative as you like – writing, drawing, speaking, singing – or just come along to enjoy a coffee, a beer, a bite to eat and a chance to listen and soak up the poetic atmosphere with family and friends. We’re going out with a bang, so be sure to stay for the evening when our festival headliner, world slam champion and poetry superstar Harry Baker, performs his celebrated ‘Unashamed’ show. We know you’ll be glad you did!

Book your tickets here.