Past Events

Wolverhampton Literature Festival Poetry Competition Winners Event

Date: 2nd February 2020

Time: 3.30pm - 4.30pm

Location: Contemporary Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton.

The Wolverhampton Literature Festival poetry competition has been a huge success over the past two years, attracting hundreds of entries from the UK and abroad. Winning and shortlisted poets are invited to come along to the award ceremony, receive their complementary copy of the anthology, and read their poem. This is a free event, and all are welcome.

Price: Free

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle Writing Workshop

Date: 2nd February 2020

Time: 1.00pm - 3pm

Location: Gathering Space, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton

Join writers and performance poets Emma Purshouse and Steve Pottinger in a workshop designed to get you creating and writing poetry that makes use of newspaper stories, magazine articles and old books. Have a go at a series of writing activities including the creation of redacted poems. No experience necessary.

Price (inc. booking fee): £11.37

Common People – panel discussion about working class writing

Date: 2nd February 2020

Time: 5.30pm - 6.30pm

Location: The Georgian Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton

Where are all the working-class writers? Right here. With the anthology Common People, editor Kit de Waal set out to celebrate diversity of working class lives, pushing beyond the stereotypical portrayals of the underprivileged and dispossessed. Join City of Wolverhampton Poet Laureate Emma Purshouse and writers featured in the anthology for a panel discussion, including Paul Allen, Lynne Voyce, and Lisa Blower.

It is estimated that almost half of all authors, writers and translators in the UK come from professional, middle-class backgrounds, compared with just ten per cent of those with parents in routine or manual labour, and the average income for an author in 2017 was £10,500 – well below the minimum wage. This anthology gives voice to perspectives that are increasingly absent from our books and newspapers. Common People ensures they are heard loud and clear.

Paul Allen grew up in relative poverty on a large council estate, and left school at fifteen to be a bricklayer like his dad before him, and loved it. Paul has played in bands and ridden motorcycles all his life, and freelances, between building jobs, road-testing bikes for a monthly motorcycling magazine. Using that experience, he applied for a degree in journalism at the University of the West of England, swapping on to the creative-writing course, where his tutor has described his writing as ‘experienced and emotionally intelligent’.

Lynne Voyce grew up on a council estate in Ellesmere Port; a place full of larger-than-life characters, tall tales, and the odd dodgy deal. Inspired by her dad buying The Literary Classics Collection with some of his redundancy money, she studied English at the University of Leeds, and went on to take a teaching qualification and then a postgraduate degree in educational psychology. Lynne now works in an inner-city comprehensive school in Birmingham. She has published more than fifty individual short stories, won a number of literary competitions, and, in December 2015, published her first story collection, Kirigami, with Ink Tears Press. She is currently working on her first novel.

Lisa Blower won the Guardian’s National Short Story competition in 2009, was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2013, has been Highly Commended and longlisted for the Bridport Prize for three consecutive years, and was one of just four UK authors longlisted for The Sunday Times Short Story Award 2018. Her debut novel Sitting Ducks (Fair Acre Press) was shortlisted for the inaugural Arnold Bennett Prize 2017 and longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker 2016. She is currently touring the UK with her debut short-story collection It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s. Lisa is a creative writing lecturer at Wolverhampton University.

Emma Purshouse was born in Wolverhampton, and is a freelance writer and performance poet. She is currently the City of Wolverhampton Poet Laureate.

Emma is a poetry slam champion (including the Shambala Festival Slam 2018) and she performs regularly at spoken word nights and festivals far and wide, often using her native Black Country dialect in her work. Her appearances include, The Cheltenham Literature Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Much Wenlock Poetry Festival, Solfest, Latitude, and WOMAD. She has supported the likes of John Hegley, Holly McNish and Carol Ann Duffy.

Emma writes for both children and adults. In 2016, her first collection of children’s poetry was produced by Fair Acre Press. This dyslexia-friendly book is aimed at 6 to 11 year-olds and won the poetry section of the Rubery Book Award in 2016. Her most recent publication is Close (Offa’s Press, 2018), this was also shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award 2019.

In 2017 Emma won the Making Waves international spoken word competition which was judged by Luke Wright. Her first novel was short-listed for the Mslexia unpublished novel prize. Her second novel was shortlisted for Penguin Random House a mentoring programme. Emma was also one of the writers chosen by Kit De Waal for the Common People anthology in 2019.

Price (inc. booking fee): £11.37

The Wolverhampton Literature Festival Fringe Room at the Lych Gate

Date: 1st February 2020

Time: 12.30pm to 6.30pm

Location: Lych Gate Tavern, 44 Queen Square, Wolverhampton WV1 1TX

Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists once again bring to Wolves Lit Fest a selection of the finest shows from the Edinburgh Fringe. Entry to each of the five events is free, with the hat being passed at the end of each show. All the money goes to the artist. Shows are as follows:

12.30pm: Wum Med, Wum Growed, written and performed by Heather Wastie
1.45pm: 300-1, Corin Rhys Jones
3pm: The Empathy Experiment, Rose Condo
4.15pm: The Tanner’s Tale, Alex McSherry
5.30pm: One Foot in the Rave, Alexander Rhodes

Heather Wastie : Wum Med, Wum Growed

Heather grew up in the Black Country, soaking up her local dialect but rarely using it. Through original poems, characters and songs with accordion, she will take us to the street in Cradley Heath where she was born and raised. She will drap aitches, tek a dialect test, and translate where necessary. With the help of alter egos Barbara the Bostin Darter and Black Country Pat, she will chew over the subject of ‘learning ter spake’ and would love you to join in.

Heather is a widely-commissioned former Worcestershire Poet Laureate you may have seen or heard in a Nationwide Building Society advert. Some of the pieces in her show were written for the 2016 project Where’s Our Spake Gone?

Corin Rhys Jones: 300-1

What’s better than a glorious death? Escaping his war poetry homework, 15-year-old Elliot re-enacts the movie 300 to the ghosts of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Corin Rhys Jones brings the award-winning production of this comical and moving one-man show to Wolves. Written and directed by Matt Panesh.

Rose Condo: The Empathy Experiment

Could you survive without your phone for a day? Award-winning Canadian poet Rose Condo embarks on her own Day Of No Mobile Phones, exploring tech addiction and compassion. Rose uses herself as the test subject … but can her experiment save empathy? Best Spoken Word Show, 2019 Greater Manchester Fringe.

Alex McSherry: The Tanner’s Tale

The Tanner’s Tale ★★★★★ (Edinburgh Fringe)
Alex McSherry performs a great single-handed play about William Wallace’s fight against the English. Taken from the point of view of a tanner who fought alongside Wallace, we get the blood and guts. In fact we get lots of bodily fluids, thus is the nature of a tanner’s work. A real treat.

Age guide: 15+

Alexander Rhodes: One Foot in the Rave

A disillusioned 23 year old Jehovah’s Witness breaks free from the controlling cult and lands on the dance floors of 90’s clubland. Shunned by his family and everyone he knows, he is not prepared for what lies ahead.

Age guide 16+ Contains Drug and Alcohol References and adult themes.


Date: 28th January 2020

Time: 7.00pm - 9.30pm

Location: Arena Theatre, Wulfruna Street, Wolvehampton. WV1 1SE.

Open mic night MCd by Emma Purshouse, Dave Pitt and Steve Pottinger. All welcome. In the first half people read creative writing written on a theme. This month it’s ‘Free Will’. In the second half anything goes. Come along and share your work.

Roaming Postcard Poets for Wolverhampton Literature Festival

Date: 25th January 2020

Time: 10.30am - 2.30pm

Location: Wolverhampton City Centre

Watch out for Jane Seabourne, Emma Purshouse, and Steve Pottinger who will be going out and about in Wolverhampton city centre, handing out Poetry On Loan postcards and generally promoting the Wolverhampton Literature festival.

Price: Free

The Wolverhampton Literature Festival Poetry Slam 2020

Date: 25th January 2020

Time: 7.30pm - 10.30pm

Location: Arena Theatre, Wulfruna Street, Wolvehampton. WV1 1SE.

Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists present their high-energy, high-entertainment poetry slam. Fifteen contenders make their way to Wolverhampton from all over the country to share their poems, in the hope of winning a slot at next year’s festival. This is always a popular event and may sell out – Get your tickets early from the Arena Theatre website.

Price: £12 full price / £10 concessions

Yes, We Cant

Date: 5th January 2020

Time: 7.00pm

Location: The Pretty Bricks, 5 John Street, Walsall. WS2 8AF

Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists present their ever popular spoken word night.
We are delighted that our January headliner is the truly wonderful Liz Berry. The proceeds from this event will be given to Black Country Women’s Aid. As ever the night is a pay as you feel event, but you will need to reserve a seat in advance. Get in touch for more information.

The ‘alf ender slot will be taken by Nick Pearson who is published by Offa’s Press.

10 open mic slots available. These are a strict five minutes. We will be drawing names from a hat to see who gets those. Again do get in touch if would like to be in the running for one of those.

Emma Purshouse leads a workshop for Tipton Writers

Date: 14th December 2019

Time: 10.30 am - 12 noon

Location: Tipton Library, Owen House, 17 Unity Walk, Tipton. DY4 8QL.

All are welcome to join this free writing workshop at Tipton Library.

Poetry at the Star and Shadow, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Date: 8th December 2019

Time: 12.30 - 2.00pm

Location: The Star and Shadow, Warwick Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE21BB

Join us at lunchtime as two top Midlands performance poets and Newcastle’s own Harry Gallagher perform their work.

The Café is open so have your lunch while you are here.

Emma Purshouse is Wolverhampton’s first ever poet laureate, and an outstanding performer who’s funny, sharp, and outspoken. She is winner of the Making Waves poetry competition (judged by Luke Wright) and her work features in the Common People anthology of working-class writing (edited by Kit de Waal).

Steve Pottinger has performed across the UK, and achieved notoriety when his letter to Caffe Nero, attacking their tax avoidance, went viral. His work is political, satirical, and celebratory.

Harry Gallagher is well-known to poetry lovers in the north-east. He is widely published, with several books and pamphlets to his name. His book ‘Northern Lights’ came with endorsements from John Hegley & Henry Normal. Harry runs the north-east Stanza of the Poetry Society and tours nationwide.

This will be a pay-as-you-feel event, starting at 12.30pm.