Ben Banyard was born in Solihull in 1975 and moved to the West Country in 1994 to read English Literature and Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Plymouth’s former arts and education campus in Exmouth. It was during this period that Ben began to write poetry, although it wasn’t until he joined Jo Bell’s famous ‘52 group’ two decades later that he started to take writing seriously. Since then his poems have appeared widely, both in print and online. Between 2014-2017 Ben edited the online journal, Clear Poetry. He lives in Portishead, just outside Bristol, with his wife Natalie and twins Daisy and Jack.
Sue Boyle lives in Bath where she organises the Bath Poetry Cafe and the associated Cafe Workshops and Cafe Writing Days. She studied in Poetry School workshops for three years with Tim Liardet. Her work has been published by The Rialto, Acumen, Magma, Poetry Salzburg and The Interpreter’s House.
Her poem ‘A Leisure Centre is Also a Temple of Learning’ was chosen for the Forward Prize Anthology 2009, and her collection Too Late for the Love Hotel was a winner in the 2009 Book & Pamphlet Competition (judged by Andrew Motion).
Rachael Clyne lives in Glastonbury where she works as a psychotherapist. Her youth was spent in the acting profession on stage and in television, a career that lent itself to appreciating and performing poetry. Love of nature and connecting with our place in the family of things, plus witnessing aspects of the human journey give her work a depth and earthiness, sprinkled with humour, even in the darkest places. She puts this down to a Jewish background, which has coloured some of her earlier pieces. Her latest book, Singing at the Bone Tree was the winner of the 2013 Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize.
John F. Deane is one of the most gifted and influential poets in Ireland, not only from his formidable corpus of more than a dozen poetry books, but also because of what he has founded and organised in the Irish poetry world. His talent as a writer and commitment to poetry have been recognised not just in Ireland but across Europe. Deane’s tenacity to express a spiritual vision in what many might suppose is rapidly becoming a post-Catholic, and even post-Christian, Ireland marks him out as a voice crying in the wilderness, but a cry softened by the cadences of otherworldly music.
Deane was born on Achill Island in Co. Mayo in 1943 and nearly found his way into the priesthood. Instead, he took the cloth of secular society and began to work out his destiny in the cloisters of the imagination. In 1979 he founded Poetry Ireland – the national poetry society – and Poetry Ireland Review (of which he became editor in 2011), twin establishments that have nourished generations of Irish poets. In 1985 he founded Dedalus Press, another seedbed of Irish poetry. He says, ‘One of the dreams of my crazy life is that mankind should work towards the total abolition of war (after all it happened in the case of slavery!)’.
Jane Draycott was born in London in 1954 and studied at King’s College London and Bristol University. Her pamphlet No Theatre (Smith/Doorstop) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 1997, and her first full collection Prince Rupert’s Drop (1999), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. Her translation of the medieval dream-elegy Pearl, won the Stephen Spender Prize for Translation. She lectures in creative writing at Oxford University and the University of Lancaster, and was writer in residence in 2013 for the Netherlands Foundation for Literature.
Ann Drysdale was born near Manchester, raised in London, married in Birmingham, ran a smallholding, brought up three children on the North York Moors, and now lives in South Wales. Her recent publications have included two memoirs and a quirky guidebook in the Real Wales series. Her poems have won prizes in the Manchester, Cardiff, Peterloo, Housman Society, Bridport and National poetry competitions and she is the current holder of the Dylan Thomas Prize for poetry in performance.
Vicki Feaver (b. 1943) grew up in Nottingham “in a house of quarrelling women”, an emotional inheritance which finds later expression in her poetry. She studied Music at Durham University and English at University College, London. A central concern of her work is female creativity and its repression, how, beneath her learnt veneer of niceness, a woman can be seething with passionate hatred or love, and her poems negotiate brilliantly between the two realities. She includes the stuff of everyday life in her poems – jam-making, gym classes, ironing – but grafts them onto the power of fairy-tale and myth.
Anne Marie Fyfe was born in Ireland and now lives in West London. A poet, creative-writing tutor, arts organiser (of the well-known Troubadour club events in London), she was Chair of the Poetry Society (2006 – 2009). She has published five poetry collections, including Understudies: New and Selected Poems, She also won the Academi Cardiff International Poetry Competition with her poem ‘Curaçao Dusk’.
Victoria Field is a writer and poetry therapist. She was born in London in 1963 and now lives in Canterbury, Kent. She writes poetry, fiction and drama. She has published three collections of poetry, two with fal, her own award-winning small press: Olga’s Dreams and Many Waters which is based on a year-long residency at Truro Cathedral. October Guests is a pamphlet co-authored with Caroline Carver and Penelope Shuttle. Her poetry has been broadcast on BBC Radio Cornwall, Radio 3 and Radio 4. Her latest full collection, The Lost Boys, was published by Waterloo Press.
Angela France was born in Cheltenham in 1955 and has lived in Gloucestershire for most of her life. She has held a variety of jobs and currently works with disengaged and challenging teenagers. She has had poems published in many of the leading journals, in the UK and abroad. While The Hill is focussed on one place, the poems, and voices in the show, raise questions about land and who can own it, walk on it or be denied it. Audiences from elsewhere will find resonances in its themes of protecting green spaces, particularly with contemporary concerns about fracking, building on green belts, and the threat of parks closing.
Andrew Geary is a chartered accountant by day and poet by evening and weekend. He brings the two together as member and treasurer of the Ware Poets in Hertfordshire. His poems have appeared regularly in magazines and competition anthologies. His first collection, A Shoal of Powan, was published by Rockingham Press in January of this year and was The Poetry Kit Book of the Month for February. His poetry seeks to portray modern life in its global and multi-cultural aspects and has been described as compassionate, thoughtful and compelling.
If you ignore his teenage poetic fumblings, John Godfrey began writing after being persuaded to accompany his wife on a creative writing weekend in 1986. He has lived in Hitchin since 1978 and has been involved with Ware Poets since 1991. In 1997 he took voluntary redundancy from his job as a railway manager after deciding that work was starting to get in the way of other things he wanted to do – writing among them. This could explain why trains sometimes wander through his poems.
James Harpur was born in Britain in 1956 to an Irish father and a British mother and now lives near Clonakilty in Co. Cork. He studied Classics and English at university then taught English on the island of Crete. He is essentially an interior poet with a fascination for spirituality. Stylistically, he has a deep sympathy with the mythopoeic strand of poetry, from Homer, Virgil and Dante to the Romantics, Eliot and Ted Hughes. His concerns – the human condition, the nature of the psyche, the yearning for spiritual meaning – are both contemporary and timeless. Harpur is concerned with poetic craft and often displays regular metrics, rhymes and half-rhymes..
Writer, poet, enemy of all that’s difficult and upsetting, Matt Harvey’s way with words has taken him from Totnes to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships via Saturday Live, the Edinburgh Festival and the Work section of The Guardian. He is host of Wondermentalist – Radio 4’s comedy-infused, musically enhanced interactive poetry cabaret – and author of The Hole in the Sum of my Parts (Poetry Trust), Where Earwigs Dare (Green Books) and Mindless Body Spineless Mind. He is married, with one wife. They have two sons.
Danielle Hope founded and edited Zenos, a magazine of British and International Poetry, edited the work of the Turkish poet, Feyyaz Fergar, was a Trustee of Survivors Poetry, is editorial advisor for the Literary Magazine, Acumen and helps in the Torbay Poetry Festival. She performs on the London scene – contemporary and slam. In her latest collection she develops a new alter ego – who struggles to cope with everyday life such as booking appointments.
Antony Mair now lives in Hastings but has lived in German and France and spent time as an English language teacher, Benedictine monk, shopkeeper in New Bond Street and, for the major part of his professional life, a commercial lawyer in the City, before becoming an estate agent in the Dordogne. His debut collection ‘Bestiary, and Other Animals’ from Live Canon and his second collection, ‘Let the Wounded Speak’ is to be published by Overstep Books later this year.
Denise McSheehy’s prize winning first collection, Salt, was published by the Poetry Can. She received an Arts Council bursary for the development of work in progress & her poems have appeared in many magazines and been successful in major poetry competitions. She has read her work at a number of venues, including the Bristol Poetry Festival, the Brighton Festival, the Falmouth Poetry Festival; and at Torbay Poetry Festival with the collective Moor Poets.
Jacqueline Saphra’s poetry has been widely published. She was on the editorial board of Magma Poetry magazine, has been Poet in Residence for Transport for London and for Good Housekeeping Magazine. Her TS Eliot short-listed collection, All My Mad Mothers explores love, sex and family relationships in vivacious, lush poems that span the decades and generations. At the heart of this collection of poems is the portrait of a mother as multitudes trapped in ever-decreasing circles and, above all else, almost impossible to grasp.
Giles L. Turnbull grew up a northerner, living in Harrogate until becoming an honorary Welshman after moving to Swansea University to study chemistry. He owned his first poetry book at the age of 7 or 8 years old, sold to him at his junior school jumble sale for the princely sum of 2p. Studying A-Level English he encountered the poetry of Thomas Hardy, the first significant influence on his poetry style. His early poems reflected a deep despair at the beauty and the cruelty of life, and the trials and tribulations of love. He is a regular participant in creative writing and poetry groups.
Susan Utting has worked for many years as a poetry tutor, at Reading University and more recently as a freelance. Her work has won many awards, including the Peterloo Poetry Prize, and she was selected for The Times newspaper’s best love poem prize 2010. She was a winner in the Academi Cardiff Inter-national and has twice been shortlisted for the Arvon Poetry Prize. Her poems accomplish a strikingly steady focus, both compassionate and uncompromising in its observation of the human experience. Her collection, Half the Human Race: New & Selected Poems. was published in March 2017.
Simon Williams was born in London in 1952, grew up in the home counties and trained as a production engineer. He began writing poetry at Loughborough University, where he worked under the influence of the two resident poets, Roger McGough and Pete Morgan. In 1979 he married fellow poet Susan Taylor and two years later they took up the posts of Arvon Foundation Centre Directors at Totleigh Barton, Devon. He has developed a poetic voice which flexes into disparate characters with subtlety, wit and affection. Now living on Dartmoor, he performs regularly and often enhances his readings with acapella songs.