Bard-backed literary festival returns to Barnsley

Barnsley’s festival to celebrate poetry and language is back for 2018, supported by the town’s very own Poet Laureate, Ian McMillan.

The Hear My Voice Literary Festival runs from 26 February – 31 March and is part of the three-year Hear My Voice programme, designed to encourage the people of Barnsley to express themselves through poetry and the written and spoken word.

The programme was launched by Barnsley Museums in June 2016 with Ian’s appointment as Poet Laureate. He is supporting the festival alongside fellow Yorkshire wordsmiths Winston Plowes and Helen Mort.

A series of events will run throughout the festival, and Ian, known as the Bard of Barnsley, will run his own ‘Sculpt a Poem’ workshop on 26 March where he will explore writing techniques.

He will work with participants to create poetry surrounded by the work of the late, world-renowned ceramic artist Betty Woodman, which is currently on display at the town centre’s Cooper Gallery.

Ian said: “I’m proud to be associated with the Hear My Voice festival once again. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the people of Barnsley to get involved in poetry, stories, song, debate and discussion.

“If you’ve always wanted to write your own poem but aren’t sure where to start, I’ll teach you all the tricks of the trade with a few special techniques thrown in during my workshop.”

One of the aims of the festival is to bring poetry to the people of Barnsley in places and ways they wouldn’t normally expect.

Members of the public can experience the wonders of typewriting during a free workshop with poet Winston Plowes at Penistone Town Hall. From a 1920s Corona, to more recent electric models, Winston’s writing machines will be set to work on 22 March.

The event is being run in partnership with Age UK and letters by participants will be delivered to the most socially isolated in the rural community.

A series of events to celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March) will also take place from 5 – 8 March in Barnsley town centre as part of the festival’s ‘Rebel Week’.

The festival will end on 31 March with a day of stories, songs and discovery for families at RSPB Old Moor, Barnsley, hosted and supported by the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP).

Jemma Conway, learning manager at Barnsley Museums, said: “After the success of last year’s festival, we are aiming to engage with even more people in the community through a range of fun, creative and thought-provoking sessions.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the Hear My Voice partners and sponsors who have made the programme for this year possible.”

The wider Hear My Voice programme is coordinated by Barnsley Museums, and funded by Barnsley TUC Training Ltd, with support from partners, including: Creative Recovery, Arts Council England, The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership, Meeting Point and The Heritage Lottery Fund.

For more information on the Hear my Voice festival and to download the programme of events visit:

  • Picture shows Ian McMillan with Winstone Plowes

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