Words on the Waves

The third Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival ended on a lovely note with a boat trip and open mic along River Fal.

princessaThe Princessa was a cosy boat, with plenty of seating and a bar. On our journey we passed some splendid views, including Pendennis Castle and St Anthony’s Lighthouse. The open mic welcomed plenty of brilliant poets, and some topical poetry about Pendennis Castle, Plymouth Hoe and various other nautical-themed pieces. However, we also heard a variety of poetry which including poems about sexual health, a friend moving away and Gerður Kristný even read a poem which was partly in Icelandic! ny

One of my favourite picks from the afternoon was a poem by Viviana, who explained that they had wondered about New York’s famous phrase ‘the city that never sleeps’, and what exactly these nocturnal people get up to. Their poem described some residents of New York they had made up, and why they cannot sleep.



During the boat trip we had an opportunity to go out onto the deck, where the air was crisp and we could enjoy the view of the sun setting over the creek; a beautiful end to the festival.

We would like to thank all of the readers for joining in with the open mic and contributing to the wonderful atmosphere on the boat.


Rai Sweet

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Prize-giving and Readings with Anne-Marie Fyfe

The Saturday of the festival ended with an inspiring evening, which included a beautiful reading with Anne-Marie Fyfe, who read from her books House of Small Absences and Tickets from a Blank Window, before the prize-giving commenced. IMG_3828

First up was the ‘Shorelines’ competition, which was run by Falmouth Poetry Group and The Falmouth Packet. The competition judge, Penelope Shuttle, decided to award the prize jointly due to the way both poems ‘represented a very different side of Falmouth.’ Christopher Warren-Adamsons’ poem titled The Docks 1955 was a beautiful piece inspired by his childhood memories in Falmouth, whilst Morag Smith’s poem A Night in the Lane Behind Malborough Road was ‘a powerful and moving account of a dramatic incident in one of Falmouth’s main residential roads.’ Congratulations to these two incredible winners! You can find out more about this competition and read the winning poems by visiting The Falmouth Packet.

The final prize-giving was for The Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Competition, judged by Anne-Marie Fyfe. First of all we heard some poetry from a shortlisted poet, Julie-Ann Rowel who read her poem The Vandal. Anne-Marie Fyfe gave a wonderful introduction for her poem, saying: ‘This is secretly an Orkney local history poem mentioning HMS Royal torpedoed at Scapa Flow, St Magnus Cathedral, […] and memories of the trustworthy, decent 1950’s society all sneaked into a poem that’s extensively about one outbreak of vandalism at the co-op.’ Julie-Ann’s reading was followed by a brilliant reading from another shortlisted poet, Ian Royce Chamberlain.

In third place was Jonathan Greenhause with his poem The Music in His Head is Faint at First, unfortunately he lives in New Jersey and therefore was unable to read at the event. Anne Taylor came second with her poem This Grief; although she was unable to make it, her daughter stood up to read the poem in her place. Finally, the well-deserved winner of the competition was Pamela Job with her brilliant poem, Remembering Engel Astrup, Pamela came up to read her poem and explained how she was inspired by Nikolai Astrup’s exhibit at Dulwich Picture Gallery, and decided to write about Engel Astrup, who features in many of the paintings. Congratulations, Pamela!


Pamela Job (left) accepting her prize from Anne-Marie Fyfe (right).

Rai Sweet

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Readings with Cahal Dallat and Gerður Kristný

On the Saturday afternoon of the festival, we were treated to readings by two very profound poets. Based in the wonderful Falmouth Hotel, the setting was made atmospheric with dozens of fairy-lights.


Cahal Dallat was up first, his poetry has been widely published and his many awards include the Keats-Shelley Prize and the Strokestown International Prize. He opened up discussing the idea that ‘things are not set in stone, things are carved in stone’, and started off with his poem ‘Not Buying a Dog’ from his book The Year of Not Dancing, and then continued to read from his book Morning Star. Cahal spoke about his poem ‘Giant’, which won the Keats-Shelley Prize, and advised the audience to write about what you know because ‘the everyday is interesting enough’, before reading it. Cahal ended his reading with a poem he wrote about a lighthouse keepers family, he explained that he chose to do this because he realised a lighthouse keepers children would lead very remote lives. He played a tune an old lighthouse keeper had made, which set the scene for the final poem. Cahal’s inspirational reading was a lovely start to the afternoon.


Next up was Gerður Kristný , who emerged as one of Iceland’s most interesting poets with her first book, Ísfrétt, and has since published several books of poetry. Gerður joked about how Nordic Gods seem to be in fashion at the moment, which inspired her to reinvent the old tales. Gerður read from her book Bloodhoof which retells the popular Norse story in which the God Freyr sends his servant, Skírnir, to catch a beautiful woman with ‘shining hands’ whom he had fallen in love with. Although this story is considered to be romantic, Gerður intending to give it a modern twist which unveils the violent undertones and hints towards the trafficking of women. Gerður’s reading was wonderfully intriguing, and we are particularly impressed that she had flown to England specifically for Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival.

The festival may have come to an end, but this bi-annual event will be returning to Falmouth again soon! Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @CoCoPoFest to keep updated.

Rai Sweet

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Creative workshop with Andrew Lanyon

To kick off the last day of the Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival, I joined eager festival-goers this morning for a creative workshop at the magnificent Falmouth Hotel, curated by the one and only Andrew Lanyon. IMG_4637

Andrew has mastered several areas of artistic expertise, including painting, film, photography, music and writing – and we were fortunate enough to spend two valuable hours learning one of his artistic techniques.

On the table were mountains of scrap paper torn from books, magazines, journals and more – excerpts of text from history books, illustrations from botanical journals, and even anatomical diagrams. Dotted around were glue sticks and scissors, and we were instructed to begin gathering materials we liked and cut them up.


Andrew presented us with an interesting approach to constructing a narrative, through using pictures and fragments of text from the scraps and creating a story of our own. We were given sheets of A4 paper to fold as we liked and act as our ‘books’, and by 15 minutes in, everyone was busy cutting and sticking. Andrew provided individual feedback throughout the session, and even encouraged us to try and create a few different stories at the same time. He also advised us to ‘get physical’ with the materials, to feel their different textures and consider how they could potentially enhance the story-making process.

The results were inventive, captivating and charming, and Andrew was thoroughly impressed with everyone’s efforts. Although I would’ve liked more time to continue constructing my stories – and I’m sure everyone else would agree – I was more than satisfied with my efforts, and left the workshop with a newly acquired skill in story making, that I’ll definitely be using in future ventures.











Thank you, Andrew, for an unforgettable workshop – a superb way to spend a Sunday morning!

Maxwell Colbourne


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Readings with Isaiah Hull and Inua Ellams at the Maritime Museum

On Friday night, two astounding poets, Isaiah Hull, 21, and Inua Ellams, 34, read to a sold-out audience in the National Maritime Museum, cementing the event as a highlight of the festival’s programme. While historical yachts and sailboats hung suspended from the ceiling, creating a positively unique atmosphere – perfect for the styles of the poets’ performances – we listened with captivated ears.


Penelope Shuttle introduced Isaiah Hull, who, at only 21 years old, has achieved a profound reputation within the spoken word community. The audience were treated to a selection of poems from his new collection, Nosebleeds, revolving around the reoccurring theme of nosebleeds, and featuring a range of fantastic illustrations by Isaiah himself. Isaiah is a brilliant performer and forms a bond with the audience immediately, pulling all the right reactions from them – his reading kicked off the evening perfectly.

Before Inua took to the stage there was a brief interlude in which the audience were welcome to perform in an open mic. Tom Scott, lecturer at Falmouth University and an organiser of Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival, had run a workshop at the Maritime Museum prior to the event, and invited people to read the poems they had produced. It was lovely to hear poetry inspired by the very museum we were sat in, and we could really sense a feel for the historical objects around us.

After a short break it was finally time to hear some poetry from Inua Ellams, a Nigerian poet, playwright, performer, graphic artist and designer. Inua engaged with the audience by asking them for a word, which he then entered in a search on his phone to find a poem including that particular word. This fun and interesting manner of performing a reading was a hit with the audience, who thought of some great words such as ‘homesick’.

During the evening the poets’ books were available to buy, and they sold out almost immediately. Luckily, Isaiah Hulls’ book Nosebleeds, and Inua Ellams’ Candy-Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars are available to buy online.

Don’t forget, there’s still time to visit our website to get tickets for the final events.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @CoCoPoFest!

Maxwell Colbourne and Rai Sweet

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Poetry Masterclass with Sean O’Brien

This wintry morning, the third and penultimate day of the Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival was kicked off to a warm start by a masterclass hosted by the poet Sean O’Brien, held in a ballroom at the Falmouth Hotel.

Poems had been submitted prior to the masterclass, with submissions coming from budding wordsmiths from all over the United Kingdom (and beyond!) looking to gain invaluable feedback from a nationally acclaimed poet and improve their writing.
The talent was evident and wide-ranging within the submissions. Among the poems submitted were “Dead Man’s Fingers” by Graham Burchell, “Memories of Sand” by Angie Butler, “On Poetry, For My Father” by Toby Keane, “Positions” by Kate Compston, “Waking I find” by Brigid Sivil, “Walking the Universe” by Caroline Carver, “Whale Song” by Jo Egar, “When We Were Dragons” by Emma Clifton, and “Michael Chekhov’s Instructions For Leaf Blowers” by Richard Begbie.

The diverse and eclectic range of verse submitted made for a very interesting series of readings, followed by insightful analyses by Sean O’Brien of each individual poem, and personal feedback given on how the poets might go about revising their work.
Topics covered in the readings and feedback included the use of rhetorical questions, stanzaic structure, caesura, and the rhythm of words. O’Brien emphasized in particular the musicality of words, seeing it as integral to our approach to poetry. Perhaps unexpectedly, as it is seldom brought up, even by poets, as something that ought to be considered, O’Brien asked the audience and aspiring poets to be more cognizant of line endings, and how the words that conclude a line in a poem can shape our understanding of its meaning.

We came, we read, we conquered. Within the hour-and-a-half-long session, we shared a delightful, intimate space together wherein poetry enthusiasts could share their work and partake in a collective effort to better ourselves; it is fair to say that everyone took something away that they found to be of immense use from the masterclass. Alas, it all ended too soon for those of us who were having a jolly good time of it. Well, as the saying goes: “This is not the beginning of the end, it is only the end of the beginning.” And in that spirit, we the CoCoPoFest team wish you the best of luck in your writing endeavours, and hope to see you again next year!

Jin Wei Wong

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CCPF’s 2018 Poetry Slam!

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On Thursday, the festival brought in a packed out evening at the Poly, in which ten contestants fought their way to the top with a variety of vibrant and captivating poems. Under ambient lighting complete with fairy lights, the audience lent their ears to Jamie Andrews, who charmed us all – as always – with his performance as MC. Three audience members were picked out to sit on the judging panel, and the competition was away.

The entries spanned a mixture of themes, including love, feminism, the environment and Christianity, and suspended us all with held breath throughout the course of the evening. The scores between contestants were consistently close, with six out of ten making it through to the semi-final round. Isaiah Hull, 21-year-old spoken word wonder from Old Trafford and the festival’s headliner, arrived to take over as MC, and carried us through the second round with charm, wit and a few outstanding poems of his own.

The second round of poems from contestants were equally as brilliant, with Izzy Patrick, Dickie and Megan Chapman sailing through to the final on exceedingly high scores from the judges.

It was intensely close between the finalists, but Izzy Patrick’s stunning “It’s Not You It’s Me” received a standing ovation, and took first place. I spoke to Izzy afterwards about her winning poem and what she made of the evening in general:

I guess it meant a lot winning on that poem just because it’s the most recent thing I’ve written and it’s still very much embedded in my feelings I have now. I wasn’t expecting to even get through the first round so knowing that people liked what I did enough to win is so shocking for me.

I’ve performed in small places before on open mic nights a couple of times but I’ve never had the response that I had the other night from people. It was so nice and made me want to write more. The whole evening was lovely, so many talented people – I felt like I got to see a bit of all their souls even though they were strangers. It was a really beautiful evening!

A huge well done to everyone who competed, and to the runners-up, whose poems set the standard incredibly high. This year’s poetry slam will certainly not be forgotten in a hurry, and we thank Jamie Andrews for all of his hard work in organising the event!

The Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival is currently in full swing, with a wide range of talks, workshops and events still on offer. You can see the full list of events here. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and give us a like on Facebook to keep up to date on everything happening at the festival.

Maxwell Colbourne

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