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Two new directors announced for popular Wells poetry festival as it celebrates 20th year

PUBLISHED: 15:53 01 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:55 01 May 2017

Fiona Fraser is stepping down as director of the Wells Poetry-next-the-Sea Festival.  Picture: Paul Collins

Fiona Fraser is stepping down as director of the Wells Poetry-next-the-Sea Festival. Picture: Paul Collins

Paul Collins

Two new directors will take over the running of the Poetry-next-the-Sea Festival next year.

Writer and documentary film-maker Jim Ring will be taking over with David Waller as joint artistic directors of Wells Poetry-next-the-Sea Festival. Picture: Ian BurtWriter and documentary film-maker Jim Ring will be taking over with David Waller as joint artistic directors of Wells Poetry-next-the-Sea Festival. Picture: Ian Burt

After 10 years at the helm and a further four years on the artistic committee Fiona Fraser has decided this weekend’s festival will be her last and will hand over the reins to writer and film maker Jim Ring and writer David Waller.

They have both run their own companies and have very close local ties, and want to build on the 20-year heritage of Poetry next the Sea, while hoping to broaden its appeal into other forms of literature and possibly film.

Mr Waller said: “Jim and I regard ourselves as particularly fortunate to be taking on the mantle of running this very special festival, something that has only been possible because of the huge support of the local community.

“We hope to make it everything it has been in the past and more.”

Ms Fraser said it has been a “privilege” to have been at the helm of the popular event for so long.

“My own highlights include Jon Stallworthy on WW1 Poetry, Matthew Hollis on Edward Thomas (All roads lead to France), all Gillian Beer’s flawless talks, and a previous reading by Michael Symmons Roberts. There is also Robin Robertson reading his poems, Rachel Kelly on her book The Black Rainbow, Owen Sheers’ film on Keith Douglas, the film on Ivor Gurney and Michael Chance singing in a lyric poetry event.

“In fact I have never regretted any of the readers/performers that I have selected over the years as Artistic Director. The memories are all happy, even when Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, was 35 minutes late.”

The 2017 festival starts on Friday, May 5 and runs until Sunday, May 7 at Alderman Peel High School.

It features a range of poets, music, art and performances including readings from former hostage Terry Waite and a composition by computer music pioneer Peter Zivonieff.

There is also a world premiere of The Singing Glacier, a multi-media presentation with poems by Helen Mort, music composed by William Carslake and performed by The Little Baroque Company.

Artist Chloe Steele will exhibit her work inspired by the poets.

A symposium at midday on Sunday on the theme, Beyond Frontiers, will close the festival.

For more information and tickets visit the website.

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