Poetry festival will be boost for Woodstock

thisisoxfordshire: Rachel Phipps Buy this photo » Rachel Phipps

A NEW poetry festival in Woodstock could boost business for the town, according to traders.

Rachel Phipps, who runs The Woodstock Bookshop in Oxford Street, is organising the festival, which will run from Friday, November 9, to Sunday, November 11.

She is hoping the event, the first of its kind in the town, will bring in literature lovers from across Oxfordshire and other parts of the country.

Ms Phipps said: “Woodstock now has a well established annual literary festival but there aren’t many poetry festivals around, so I thought it would be a good idea to start one up.

“I’m sure the hotels, restaurants and cafés in the town will benefit – lots of businesses are already saying they will offer discounts if customers present a festival ticket.

“We have some fantastic names already signed up, including Gillian Clarke, the national poet of Wales.”

Ms Phipps has also secured a visit from one of America’s most popular authors, Richard Ford, who will give a reading at Woodstock Methodist Church on Tuesday, November 27, at 7pm.

She added: “Richard Ford is one of America’s best living writers so this is a huge coup for us and for Woodstock. He will be reading from his latest novel Canada.”

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Ms Phipps said the poetry festival featured a “brilliant” list of readers, including David Harsent, Jane Draycott, Bernard O’Donoghue and Jamie McKendrick.

Kirtlington Poetry Group and the performance-based group The New Libertines will also be taking part.

All events will take place at the Methodist church, in Oxford Street, apart from the opening reading featuring Sam Willetts and his publisher, fellow poet Robin Robertson. They will be speaking at St Edward’s School in Woodstock Road, Oxford.

The festival will be launched with a poetry workshop for sixth-formers at the Marlborough School, Woodstock, and the annual Tower Poetry Prize will run at the same time.

Anne Stabler, a spokesman for traders’ group Wake Up to Woodstock, said: “Festivals like this can boost business because people will book into a hotel and then spend money in the shops. Traders in Woodstock will welcome this.”

Last month’s Blenheim Palace Literary Festival featured former Irish president Mary Robinson, poet Roger McGough and Lord Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader.

  •  Poetry festival tickets cost £20.

For further information, visit woodstockbookshop.co.uk or call 01993 812760.

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