Carlisle Poetry Symposium

Bookshop May 19

The Carlisle Poetry Symposium will be back on the 13th May 2023 at Tullie House.

The doors of Tullie House will open at 10:00 but the event will start with a free workshop at 10:15 in the main function room – you will be able to book this when the post-Symposium workshops in October 2022 have ended.

The full event gets started at 12:30 – with readings by Featured Writers and open mic slots.

There will be ‘Featured Poets’ who will read during the day, and there are more than 20 open mic spaces that can be claimed on the day, too. There will also be a pop-up bookshop that will sell the work of anyone who wishes to sell their work. The pop-up bookshop frequently takes in excess of £400: all of that money goes directly back to the poets.

The Symposium is free. There is no charge for the event (apart from the workshop element). The idea is that people coming to the Symposium will want to buy poetry from the pop-up bookshop!

Josephine Dickinson read ‘Moss Flats’ at the Carlisle Poetry Symposium, May 2022.

Venue Address: Tullie House, Carlisle. Please note that this is a different venue to our first Symposia: we moved for the November 2019 Symposium, and it was a great success.

The Symposium audience gathering for the second Carlisle Poetry Symposium at our previous venue.

If you’re coming by car, there’s a car park nearby and it is called ‘Fisher Street Car Park’ and the postcode of that car park is CA3 8RE (the website with tariffs on it is here)- it should have spaces (plenty of them, on a Saturday) but you do have to pay to park there. If you arrive early you could check out Bookends/Bookcase and its cafe ‘Cakes and Ale’, which is right next to the car park. There are lots of places in The Lanes car park, or at The Sands Centre, too – but they are further away, and if you’re bringing books to sell – or carrying away a haul of new poetry titles that you’ve just bought you may not want to walk far!

Ilse Pedler reads ‘A Visit to the Vets’ at the Carlisle Poetry Symposium, May 2022.

If you’re coming by bus, there’s a stop outside the Carlisle Market Hall; if you follow the Market Hall building round the corner and up the street you’ll find Fisher Street which you’ll need to turn right down, then follow the road uphill and you’ll see Tullie House in front of you. The Tullie House website is here: Please note that the venue is fully accessible, has nice toilets, has a cafe and is spacious! Told you we were going places!

Featured Poets

Nick Pemberton reads at the very first Carlisle Poetry Symposium, May 2018. (Pic: Phil Hewitson)

We’ve prided ourselves on putting together strong line-ups of talent from our region – and wider. The featured poets for the first ever May 2018 Symposium were: Josephine Dickinson (click here) , Jennifer Copley (click here), Annie Foster (click here), Mike Smith (click here), Vivien Jones (click here), Alan John Stubbs (click here) and Nick Pemberton (click here). Quite a first event. Our second Symposium in November 2018 featured Judi Sutherland, Malcolm Carson, Autumn Richardson, Richard Skelton and Kim Moore. So, we continued the high calibre! The May 2019 Symposium – our third – featured poets including Meg Pokrass, Neil Curry, Kathleen Jones, Erica Bell, Annie Foster and Nicola Jackson. Two pamphlets were launched at the event!

At our fourth Symposium we were joined by poets from further afield. Among the poets that made the journey to us were Carole Coates, Jane Routh, Mike Barlow, Brian Lewis, Emma Bolland and Mark Goodwin. For the fourth Symposium we moved to Tullie House. It was another cracker. At our fifth Symposium (the first after a COVID-enforced absence) we had the great privilege to host readings by Kelly Davis, Joy Howard, David Hopkins, Ilse Pedler, Kerry Darbishire and Kate Davis. Our sixth Symposium was the first to feature a workshop element in the day and we were honoured to have Ilse Pedler, Richard Morewood and the amazing Josephine Dickinson as our Featured Writers. Our seventh Symposium featured Alan Dent up from Preston with both a reading and some Q&A on publishing, editing and reviewing – as well as a ‘Featured Writer’ slot from Savanna Evans.

Each ‘Featured’ poet has a biography placed upon the blog and a couple of links for people to get a flavour of their work prior to the event.

Featured poets are asked to put together a twenty minute ‘set’.

Open mic Sections

Anyone and everyone is welcome to read. The event is a celebration of the poetic culture of Carlisle and the wider ‘north’ – however you wish to define that. If you would like to read in the one of the open mic sections, then you can sign up at one of the ‘sign-up’ points during the day. Each open mic reader should read for no more than four minutes, so that we can fit in as much poetry as we can! If in doubt: one excellent poem with a short introduction. It is worth bearing in mind that the average person speaks at around a hundred words a minute. At four stanzas, ‘The Road Not Taken’ may not appear to you like a long poem, but to read it aloud without mangling its one hundred and forty plus words and giving pauses where you feel they should fall can easily take more than a minute; with a minute or two of introduction… that would be your time slot. Here I am reminded of one of my favourite cartoons (if anyone can tell me its source I would be grateful).

Please DO read at the Symposium: it is so important. But please don’t read an epic. Please do read from something that you are selling on the ‘pop-up’ bookshop, if you want to promote your own work!

Pop-up Bookshop

Anyone can put their books and pamphlets up for sale on the pop-up bookshop. Please drop off your books before 10:30 on the Saturday morning at the venue . All books should include a slip of paper inside that clearly states a price for that pamphlet or book in whole pounds, the full title of the publication and the name of the author/payee. The funds will all be centrally held by the pop-up bookshop staff. At the end of the Symposium, the cash will be sorted and all the total proceeds of each pamphlet or book will go to the poet concerned. Please be at the venue at the end of the event to pick up your books and cash! The bookshop is staffed by volunteers, who are doing this for the love of culture and literature.

Annie Foster Read May 19