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E-Newsnote – Edward Thomas Literary Festival

There will be two Bulletins this month. This one brings exciting news about the inaugural, digital, Edward Thomas Literary Festival, and how you may book tickets to attend the sessions, and a second one will follow as soon as possible with final news about the delayed Birthday Walk and Fellowship AGM.



The Edward Thomas Literary Festival – Thursday 1 October to Saturday 3 October 2020

This inspirational three days of talks, walks, screenings, readings, discussion and debate can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home as Petersfield Museum and The Edward Thomas Fellowship bring you the inaugural Edward Thomas Literary Festival.

To celebrate jointly National Poetry Day and the Fellowship’s fortieth anniversary, this three-day digital event (1st-3rd October) takes the life and work of Edward Thomas and expands and explores not only his own literary work but how he has inspired others, his love of nature and his sense of place and belonging.

With over 20 renowned poets, writers, and academics taking part, including: Daljit Nagra, Kathryn Bevis, Matthew Hollis, Imtiaz Dharker, the Robert Frost Society and featuring ‘Two poets in conversation: Michael Longley and Andrew Motion’, it is going to be a series of events not to be missed.

After most of the sessions there will be an opportunity to join in a live Q&A with the participants.
You will be able to access the festival through Facebook, Youtube, Zoom, Twitter and much more with events and sessions planned for all platforms!

If you would like to be kept up to date with the festival’s development and announcements and find out how you can be involved in sessions you may do so by emailing the engagement officer at Petersfield Museum, Ryan Watts, on, or by contacting his assistant Lauren Wayland,’


The Current Schedule

In addition to the information below, as events are added and amended up to date information is available from Petersfield Museum’s website.

Thursday 1 October (National Poetry Day)

A vision of the natural world: Poetry workshop.

10:00 am-12:00 pm
Whether you’re an experienced poet or a complete beginner keen to explore the wonderful practice of writing poems in response to the living world, you’ll find the prompts and sensory stimulus you need to gather the raw material for your poem, as well as tuition and guidance in how to craft the poem itself.  Click here to find out more and book your place to join the current Hampshire Poet Laureate Kathryn Bevis at this workshop.

Highlights From Faber’s History as a Poetry Publisher.
7:00 pm-8:00 pm
Discover the story of how Faber & Faber became one of the biggest and renowned poetry publishing houses in the world in this talk given by Toby Faber. Book your tickets here.

Running alongside these sessions, and as an introduction to Edward Thomas and his poetry, the following will take place:

Hello, my name is Edward…
10:00 am
An opportunity to discover who Edward Thomas was with this short introduction video that explores the man behind the poetry.

My Favourite Poem is…
Throughout the day
Members of the Petersfield Museum team will share their favourite poems through a mixture of live and recorded readings throughout the day as they celebrate National Poetry Day, and invite members of the Fellowship to join them. If you are interested in taking part please contact either Ryan Watts ( or his assistant Lauren Wayland ( for further information.

Friday 2 October

Places of Inspiration: Identifying the places that inspired Edward Thomas.

11:00 am-12:00 pm

Discover more about a project being undertaken by Nick Denton to uncover some of the locations that inspired the work of Edward Thomas.

Click  to find out more and book your place.

‘Sad Songs of Autumn Mirth’: Lessons on Mental Health and Nature from Edward Thomas.
2:00 pm-3:00 pm

This talk, given by Elizabeth Black, explores the relationship between nature and mental health in the poetry of Edward Thomas and reflects on the contemporary relevance of the poet’s treatment of this subject. Throughout his life Edward Thomas suffered from severe bouts of depression that he examined with unflinching honesty in his poems. Thomas’s mental health was intimately connected with the need for deep engagement with the natural world as a way to ease his suffering. This talk will draw upon close readings of the poems to consider how nature helped Edward Thomas’s mental health, the extent of its impact on his wellbeing and the lessons his poetic reflections on the subject can offer to contemporary understanding of this complex illness.

Click  to find out more and book your place.

The Plant-Whisperer: An Eco-Story.
7:00 pm-8:00 pm
Discover the words and wisdom of plants with the worlds first performance of ‘The Plant-Whisperer’ by poet Jade Cuttle.

Jade shares her experience of plant-whispering and tuning into the natural world, specifically flora, with deep-rooted connection. The performance will also include extracts from her eco-album ‘Algal Bloom’.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see the world from a different perspective.

Click here to book your place.

Hampshire Poets Together: An evening of poetry.
8:00 pm-9:00 pm

Sit back, relax and join us for an evening of local (digital!), Hampshire poetry with Hampshire poets, Stephanie Norgate, Maggie Sawkins, John Haynes, Robyn Bolam and Steve O’Brien.

This poetry reading evening will take place over Zoom, bringing the poets into your living room as they share their work with you.

Clickto find out more and book your place!

Saturday 3 October

An introduction to Edward Thomas and the Edward Thomas Fellowship

9:30 am-10:30 am
An introduction to Edward Thomas and the Edward Thomas Fellowship by Richard Emeny and Lucy Milner. Further details to follow.

Translating Edward Thomas’ Work

10:30 am-11:00 am
Fellowship committee member Marie-Marthe Gervais will introduce Professor Vladimir Fisera who will talk about the joy, and challenges, in translating poetry, and in particular Edward Thomas’s work into, on this occasion, French.

Final details of this session are to be confirmed.

Home to the Hangers: Film Screening and Q+A.

11:00 am-11:40 am

Join us to watch the award winning film ‘Home to the Hangers’, and have the opportunity to meet the director, A D Cooper and star Alex Bartram .

The stirring and moving words of poet Edward Thomas narrate the story of a traumatised soldier’s return to ancient woodland. The familiar, enveloping landscape prompts him to discard his uniform, and with it, seemingly, the ordeals of war. An imaginative blend of poetry and film that sensitively captures the complexities of identity, inspiration and the search for inner peace.

Clickfor more information and to book your place.

Alison Brackenbury: A Poetry Reading.

11:30 am-12:00 pm

Join poet Alison Brackenbury as she reads poems from her own collection about or linked to Edward Thomas. She will also include extracts from her correspondence with Myfanwy Thomas (Edward’s daughter) about the folk songs Edward sang with his family.

This moving reading will be followed by a live Q+A with Alison on Zoom.

Clickfor more information and to book your place.

Exploring the Icknield Way.
12:00 pm-1:00 pm

This talk given by Guy Cuthbertson will talk about his editing Edward Thomas’s prose and especially The Icknield Way (1913), which he is currently working on for the Oxford University Press volume entitled Pilgrimages.  The talk will explore Edward Thomas’s writing and walking, as well as the Icknield Way, an ancient road that has changed significantly since Thomas’s day.

Clickfor more information and to book your place.

Edward Thomas as the Superflous Man.
1:00 pm-2:00 pm

This talk by Anna Stenning considers Thomas’s depiction of himself in his autobiographical prose and poetry as a ‘superfluous man’ in the light of new ideas about social welfare during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Clickfor more information and to book your place.

A Gathering of Poets.
2:00 pm-3:00 pm

Join poets Daljit Nagra, Yvonne Riddick, Matthew Hollis and Zaffar Kunial online for a vibrant session of poetry readings and an exploration of what Edward Thomas means to them and their work.

This exciting session brings together four very different poets each with their unique style and identity and shares their work with you in your own home.

Clickto book your place.

2 Poets, 1 Conversation.
4:00 pm-5:00 pm

Watch the conversation unfold between two old friends, Andrew Motion and Michael Longley. This event brings the two friends together in the digital world we currently find ourselves in. Be inspired as they talk about their poetry and of course Edward Thomas and his influence on them over the years.

Please click  to find out more about this special fortieth anniversary event and to book your place for this unique session.

Edward Thomas and the Dymock Poets.
5:00 pm-7:00 pm

Literacy history was being made in the village of Dymock in the years leading up to the First World War. The Dymock poets: Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Robert Frost, Wilfrid Gibson and Edward Thomas, were a literary group of the early 20th century who made their homes in the village. This talk will explore the influence that Dymock, and its inhabitants, had on Thomas’s life and work.

Booking to open soon for this series of talks to be given by Friends of the Dymock Poets Robert Moreland, Rowan Middleton and Richard Simkin.
Edward Thomas and Robert Frost – An Inspirational Friendship.

Join us, along with our American friends from the Robert Frost Society to explore the friendship that inspired two of the 20th centuries most beloved poets.

This is a story about two men at the beginnings of their careers confiding in one another about their deepest hopes and aspirations for their art, moving through the War years and after Thomas’s death at Arras, told through a study of their personal correspondence and poetry over the life of their short lived friendship.

Letters and poems of Robert Frost and Edward Thomas will be read respectively by actors Gordon Clapp and Tom Durham, supplemented with a discussion panel formed of Frost scholars Donald Sheehy, Robert Hass and Virginia Smith and Thomas Scholars Guy Cuthbertson, Ralph Pite and Edna Longley.

Please click  to book your place.

Where booking details are not yet available for any of the above events, and for news of additional events as they are added, please visit Petersfield Museum’s events page here for the Festival.


In closure

I mentioned earlier about the delayed Birthday Walk. Due to current social distancing requirements we are still not sure if the Walk can go ahead as planned on Sunday 4 October and we hope to let you know in another Bulletin shortly. In the meantime we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible who can join us digitally at the exciting Festival.Thank you all once again for your support of the Fellowship and your interest in seeing the organisation continuing to thrive as we celebrate our fortieth ‘birthday’. Keep safe and stay well.

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