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Fri 31 May - Sat 1 June 2024

Rainham Poetry Festival 2024

Come join us for a two-day festival of poetry, with special guest, Dame Carol Ann Duffy

St Margaret's Church

High St




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About the Festival

The Rainham Poetry Festival brings together local, national, and international voices, each bearing their own distinctive message.

New writers mix with celebrated poets to read and discuss topics which are featured in their works or conjured up by them.

An old Roman road - later to become the A2 - goes past St Margaret's Rainham, on Watling St. It connected London at one end - and the whole of Britain - with Dover, France, and the wider world at the other.

Here, travellers passed; here pilgrims trudged; all day West / East. This church, built in the Norman style, is itself a testament to the role that the county of Kent has played in history. One can imagine the characters  in the Canterbury Tales stopping for refreshments and exchanging stories.

And here in this church with its hundred foot tower, a witness to the tensions of religions, wars of dynasties, its roof repainted to match the mood of monarchs, we celebrate poetry.

"History is a pattern of timeless moments. History is now, and England"

And as England reflects and adapts to the world around it, the topic for this year’s Festival is "Home and Abroad".

The Festival will take place over two days, on Friday May 31 and Saturday June 1 2024. The Festival will be introduced by our Patron, poet and artist, Bill Lewis.

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Dame Carol Ann Duffy

Dame Carol Ann Duffy, Britain's first female Poet Laureate, is a poet of national and international renown, and a celebrated playwright too.

Her collections include Standing Female Nude (1985), winner of a Scottish Arts Council Award; Selling Manhattan (1987), which won a Somerset Maugham Award; Mean Time (1993), which won the Whitbread Poetry Award; and Rapture (2005), which won the T. S. Eliot Prize. Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence, in accessible language.

We are proud to welcome Dame Carol Ann as our special guest speaker.

Image credit: Jemimah Kuhfeld

Event 1
Friday May 31, 6pm-7.15pm
“East meets West”

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Danial Andrew Danish

Pakistani poet Danial Andrew Danish reads from Crimson Pashmina, a bilingual English and Spanish edition of his poems. He comes from Faisalabad to present his poetry, a fusion of the social and the lyrical that reflects the poetic tradition of Punjab. After the reading, there is a talk, open to the public, about his poetry and about Britain as a meeting point between East and West.

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Event 2
Friday May 31, 7.30pm-9.30pm
“Between the local and the global”

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Maggie Harris

Guyana-born, Kent-based poet Maggie Harris reads poems from her book On Watching a Lemon Sail the Sea and fragments from Kiskadee Girl, a memoir of growing up in Guyana between 1954 and 1971, in which tales of family history are woven together

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Bill Lewis

Bill Lewis, Kent-born Medway poet, artist, storyteller, and mythographer, founder-member of The Medway Poets and of the Stuckists art group, reads a selection of poems. Here he tells both of his roots, and - through his poetry and art - his longing to travel to other worlds.

Image credit: Emma Dewhurst

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Gabriel Moreno

Gabriel Moreno, Gibraltarian poet and singer-songwriter, based in London reads poems from his book Heart Mortally Wounded by Six Strings in which he talks about the fusion of his dual Spanish and British identities, and a life growing up,  with Africa on his horizon.

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The readings will be followed by a discussion open to the public about their work as a meeting point between home and away, and the local and the global.

Evening drinks 9.30pm

Event 3
Saturday June 1, 2pm-3.30pm
“Poetry & Cinema”


Kathryn Gray

The Welsh-born, London-based poet reads from her latest collection Hollywood or Home  in which she uses the ruthless glamour of Hollywood as a setting on which to project her poetical voice and deal with topical issues

The reading is followed by a talk with Kathryn.  She tells us how the book developed, about specific poems and their relation to specific films or actors, and about a more general connexion between poetry cinema and culture

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Event 4
Saturday June 1, 3.45pm-5.15pm
“An Afternoon with Rosemary Tonks”

Rosemary Tonks

A reading and a presentation of the life and work of the Gillingham-born poet. Rafael Peñas Cruz from Goat Star Books recreates the life of Rosemary Tonks, as poet and playwright Di Sherlock and Kevin Harrison also from Goat Star Books read a selection of her poems.


She was once queen of London's swinging sixties Bohemia. Yet she abandoned it all to become a Christian fundamentalist, handing out Bibles at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park. She's an uncompromising character and a distinctive poetical voice.

Followed by a talk on poetry as a spiritual realisation, and the idea of artists and poets as modern gurus and priests in a post-religious age.

Event 5
Saturday June 1, 5.30pm-7.15pm
“The Poet in Time and Place”

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Dame Carol Ann Duffy

Dame Carol Ann was Britain’s first female Poet Laureate since the post was created more than four hundred years ago, and reads a selection of poems from her books: Rapture, The Bees and Sincerity, as well as the poem “Kipling” included in Answering Back, the book she edited in 2007.


After the reading there is a talk on different topics raised by her three books: love as a poetic subject in relation to Rapture, The Bees and themes of ecology and the spiritual. Sincerity and the poet as a public figure and their moral and political responsibility. And on the former Laureate’s  relationship to poetical tradition and her experience in editing “Answering Back”.

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Event 6
Saturday June 1, 7.15pm-7.45pm
Award Winners

Prize presentation to poems shortlisted in the Poetry competition held among sixth formers taking English in Medway schools. 

Dame Carol Ann Duffy will present prizes to the finalists, reading the winning poem.

Evening drinks 7.45pm


This 2024 edition of the Rainham Poetry Festival is brought to you by the Goat Star Books team.

Rafael Peñas Cruz

+44 7812 101664

Kevin Harrison

+44 7801 522901

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