The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival was started in 1989 by a small group of local people who wanted to hear published poets introducing and reading their own poems. Most of the original team remain deeply and voluntarily involved in running the Festival, motivation and principles intact.
Aldeburgh is now reagrded as Britain's leading annual international poetry festival, attracting the largest, most loyal audiences and enjoying the highest reputation among poets. 2,450 tickets were sold for the nineteen events at the 2002 Festival and the Jubilee Hall was filled to capacity throughout the weekend. And since 1989, the Festival has presented readings by over 250 poets and sold more than 25,000 tickets!
The Festival's strict no-inviting back rule ensures a fresh line up of poets each year. The 2003 programme included leading Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti, verse-novelist Bernadine Evaristo, writer-in-residence Anne-Marie Fyfe, the mesmerising Irishman, Paul Durcan, the popular broadcaster, Ian McMillan, and three important American voices, Jim Haba, Stephen Dunn and Mark Halliday. Not to mention major UK poets such as Paul Farley, Carol Rumens and Gael Turnbull. Children also play an important part in the Festival and, in 2003, the much-loved Allan Ahlberg made a rare appearance on the opening day.
Aldeburgh - located on the eastern-most coast of Suffolk, is a very special place. The sea, the sky, the town itself with such fine places to stay, eat and drink in - all generating an atmosphere you can't bottle or copyright. Poets and audience bump into each other everywhere - and talk over breakfast, on the beach, in the street, at the bar.
If contemporary poetry is important to you, Aldeburgh and the first weekend in November have probably been earmarked in your diary since last year. But if your interest in poetry is just beginning and you've yet to experience it live, there's no better place to take the plunge.
To quote the American poet Thomas Lux - who gave his first UK reading at Aldeburgh in 2000 and has just celebrated the launch of his first UK publication by reading to a sell-out Poetry Prom audience of 800 up the road from the Jubilee Hall at Snape Maltings:
The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival: may it thrive and thrive and thrive. On this planet, in our time, there is nothing like it.
name: Naomi Jaffa, Director
phone: 01986 835950
venue: The Poetry Trust
9 New Cut