THE organisers of Winchester Poetry Festival are taking poetry into the market towns and villages over the next few weeks.

The four readings, entitled at one with Love, at one with Grief, will feature Hampshire Poet 2014, Joan McGavin and Winchester poet Stephen Boyce (co-artistic director of the festival) plus two guest poets at each venue.

The tour will promote the Poetry Festival to be held on September 12-14.

The events will reflect the themes of the festival itself – commemorating the poetry of World War One, celebrating Hampshire’s contribution to literature and highlighting the best of contemporary poetry.

Guest poets include Maggie Sawkins, recent winner of the Ted Hughes award, Denise Bennett, Robyn Bolam, Paul Gardner, Hugh Greasley, John Haynes, Sylvia Oldroyd and Lynda O’Neill.

Joan McGavin said: “There’s a terrific appetite for poetry and these evenings of reflection and entertainment will give people a lively insight into the work of Hampshire poets now as well as paying tribute to the poetry of the First World War in this centenary year.”

The tour has already taken in Bishop’s Waltham Library and Perins School in Alresford.

The remaining schedule is:

• July 31, 7.30pm: Library, Station Road, Romsey. Guest poets Robyn Bolam and Paul Gardner;

• Saturday August 2, 6pm: All Saints Church, Denmead. Guest poets John Haynes and Lynda O’Neill.

Tickets are £3.50 on the door.

  • Meanwhile students across Hampshire are getting ready for the Winchester Poetry Festival’s ‘Slam Dunk’ and the Student Poetry Slam Final at the Discovery Centre on Friday September 12.

Students at Alton, Amery Hill, Barton Peveril, Bay House, Brockenhurst, Itchen, Peter Symonds and St Vincent’s, are writing poems which they will be perform at in-house heats, with the top three from each going on to represent their colleges at the ‘Slam Dunk’ Final.

Paul Davies, Head of English Literature at Symonds, said: “Performance poetry is all about the delivery. The judges will award points for the quality of the poem, but it is the performance and the audience reaction to the poem that matters most.”

Every participating student will have a poem published in a book being produced by the festival.

The ‘Slam Dunk’ Final is a free, but ticketed, event on the opening afternoon of the festival.