Poetry-Next-The-Sea | ABOUT

What They Say

Martyn Crucefix

A lovely atmosphere in which poetry can be shared without some of the pretentiousness that sometimes goes with it!

Heidi Williamson

A wonderfully warm and friendly festival in a beautiful location. A real joy to be part of it.

Clive Wilmer

A good mix of famous poets and those who deserve to be more famous. The audience was friendly, keen and open-minded.

Delaval Astley

The poetry festival has more than a toehold at Wells-next-the-Sea. It could easily have come and gone, as if dragged away by an in-discriminating tide, but it has dug itself in, a tenacious and welcome May-time feature.

Vicki Feaver

What a lovely place Wells-next-the-Sea is for a poetry festival. Wonderful to perform to one the warmest, most receptive audiences I have ever encountered and to sit on top of a boat moored on the quayside drinking wine during the intervals.

Professor Ian Gordon

Poetry-next-the-Sea maintains its now long-established reputation as one of the country's leading poetry festivals with an outstanding programme of readings, talks and discussions held in a wonderfully friendly and welcoming environment.

Christopher Reid

Let me say what a great pleasure it was to be there throughout the Festival: excellent readings, congenial poets, very kind hosts, and the whole thing beautifully organised. I'm delighted I was able to say yes.

John Siddique

Poetry-next-the-Sea is one of the best and most welcoming festivals I have ever been to either as a guest writer or as a member of the audience. It is small and perfect and fuelled by love, and boy do we need festivals like this.

Jean Sprackland

It was a great pleasure - thank you so much for inviting me, for making me so welcome, and for all the million and one things that go into masterminding a festival so successfully. It is an absolute jewel, I think.

Katrina Porteous

It was a huge pleasure to be part of Poetry-Next-the-Sea – an authentic, a high-quality gathering of poets and poetry-lovers. Being among so many people who love poetry is really like coming home. It's also invigorating to be close to the sea and the saltings. One has a sense of being at the edge, where journeys begin and end, and creative things happen.

Matthew Hollis

I feel elated and proud to know that North Norfolk is taken with verse for the next three days. It is a wonderful gift you bring to us each year, in gathering so many people to celebrate -- and be provoked by -- the best of poetry present and past.

Brian Patten

A wonderful and intimate festival on a beautiful coastline - what's not to like about it?

Bernard O’Donoghue

Yours is a really wonderful festival in a wonderful place. I can't remember any festival that had quite such a nice atmosphere and ambiance to it.


The genesis of Wells Poetry Festival occurred in 1997, when John Coleridge reasoned that an annual poetry festival on the North Norfolk coast could be a viable addition to the already established festivals at Aldeburgh and King's Lynn, and which would also be within reach of the literary and arts audiences in Norwich and East Anglia. He enlisted the help of poet and children's author Kevin Crossley-Holland, and together they set about assembling a committee of like-minded enthusiasts to achieve this goal. That committee first met in September 1997. The idea was simple in its aims: primarily, to invite the best poets and speakers to Wells, and secondly, to take poets into local schools, providing workshops which would enhance the education of all children in the locality. Alan Byford set about producing a superb festival journal, Tideline; Di Griffiths created the easily-recognised PNTS logo, and under this banner the first festival was launched.

The main speaker at that 1998 Festival was Ronald Blythe and, since then, we have seen many poets frequent the stage at The Maltings: Fleur Adcock, Simon Armitage, Gillian Clarke, David Constantine, Vicki Feaver, Sophie Hannah, Matthew Hollis, Kathleen Jamie, P.J. Kavanagh, Mimi Khalvati, Hugh Lupton, Esther Morgan, Andrew Motion, Brian Patten, Jacob Polley, Jo Shapcott, Penelope Shuttle, John Siddique, Jean Sprackland, Pauline Stainer, Jon Stallworthy, Michael Symmons Roberts, George Szirtes, Hugo Williams and Kit Wright, are just a few of the names that have been drawn to the unique atmosphere at Wells; Rose Tremain, Roger Lloyd Pack, Louis de Bernires, and John Julius Norwich, amongst others, have delighted us with their literary 'Desert Island Choices'. Many poets have worked within the local primary schools and Alderman Peel High School including David Mason, Tony Mitton, Coral Rumble, John Siddique, and Philip Wells.

The simplicity and purity of those initial intentions still guides the spirit behind PNTS, and we continue to strive to fulfil the aspirations of those earliest years. In 2011 we became a Charitable Trust for our work in enhancing the enjoyment of poetry within the educational establishments and the community in general. The present committee is immensely proud of the organisation's past achievements, and is looking forward to the 2014 Wells Poetry Festival.