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The doors at Snape are wide open for this year’s 24th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

  • Date: 2 August 2012
  • Area: South East
Word Box Van at Snape

Word Box Van at Snape. Credit: Photo courtesy of The Poetry Trust

Since 1989, world class poets and poetry lovers have been travelling to the beautiful coastal town of Aldeburgh for the first weekend each November to celebrate the written word.

Due to its overwhelming popularity, The Poetry Trust’s acclaimed Aldeburgh Poetry Festival has found a new home at Aldeburgh Music's campus at Snape Maltings, supported for the next three years with a £195,000 Grants for the arts award. Grants for the arts is Arts Council England’s open application funding programme. It invests National Lottery money to support activities that engage people in the arts and helps artists and arts organisations with their work.

The festival will take place between 2 to 4 November and will host over 50 events – readings, craft talks, performances, exchanges, poet-on-poet talks, workshops, master classes and discussions – with around 75% being held in the new venues at Snape.

Over the past 23 years, Aldeburgh Poetry Festival has developed into the UK’s leading annual celebration of national and international contemporary poetry, with over 50,000 attendees flocking to East Suffolk to participate in the festival since its launch. To date their exceptional programme of events has welcomed over 450 poets from 36 countries.

Its success has, however, led to one particular difficulty: space. The Poetry Trust has long wished to be able to welcome more new people to the festival but hasn’t been able to find the space due to the existing venues operating at full capacity for over a decade.

The Grant for the arts award will support the development and sustainability of the annual festival. The funds will also help to secure the festival‘s ambitious expansion, providing the larger and superb spaces required to host a world class programme of events each year.

Some of the highlights from this year’s programme include:

  • A Celebration of Edward Lear’s 200th anniversary - Michael Rosen's poet-on-poet lecture.
  • The Costa Prize winning poet Christopher Reid 'in conversation' with actor/producer Greg Wise - responsible for turning his narrative poem 'The Song of Lunch' into a BBC film (co-starring Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson). The discussion will be followed by a free screening of the film.
  • A unique exchange between two of the UK's best-loved and most successful female artists who share a passion for one another's work - painter & sculptor Maggi Hambling and writer Jackie Kay

With another impressive line-up of poets booked for November, showcasing writers from America, the Caribbean, Ireland, Korea, Palestine, Somalia, South Africa and across the UK, the 24th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is set to achieve new heights in 2012.

The full programme will be available from 1 August and booking opens to the public on 21 August.

Helen Lax, Regional Director, East, Arts Council England, said: ‘We are exceptionally pleased to support The Poetry Trust in this exciting new chapter for the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival through our Grants for the arts programme. Snape Maltings is an inspirational setting which will allow The Poetry Trust to bring together new and existing audiences to experience and enjoy dynamic contemporary poetry from across the world. We look forward to this year’s Festival and to seeing it flourish in its new home.’

The Poetry Trust’s Director, Naomi Jaffa, said: ‘The spirit of the Festival and its unique format won’t change. And we’re definitely not abandoning Aldeburgh. Rather, we'll be combining the bigger spaces and superb facilities available at Snape with early morning and late evening events in our traditional town venues. Most of the audience – and all our Festival poets – will continue to stay in the town. That’s why we’ll be running a free shuttle bus service between Aldeburgh and Snape (a 10-15 minute trip) throughout the weekend. Because we know that part of the Festival magic will always include walks on the beach and the best fish and chips in England!’

Aldeburgh Poetry Festival takes place 2 to 4 November 2012. Visit or for more details - download the 2012 programme here.