Poet Laureate coming to Pateley for NiddFest

Carol Ann Duffy.
Carol Ann Duffy.

By Graham Chalmers

The Poet Laureate - now that’s the way to announce a new festival.

If there was any surer sign that the organisers have major ambitions for NiddFest, it’s the programme for their very first event.

In a taster for the full-blown version of this new nature-themed literary festival next year, Carol Ann Duffy CBE will be appearing at Pateley Bridge Memorial Hall in a special family show on Saturday, July 19.

The award-winning poet and playwright, whose work is studied in British schools at GCSE, National 5, A-level, and Higher levels, will see Duffy and her accompanist John Sampson put on an hour-long performance of her classic, nature-themed fairytale, The Princess’ Blankets.

A family event, aimed for children age five-plus, there will be book signings afterwards and a chance for people to meet the Poet Laureate.

Duffy’s visit is a huge coup for the NiddFest team who include children’s author Kit Peel, Nidderdale Plus manager Katy Penn, Nidderdale ANOB officer Dr Iain Mann and marketing director Megan Peel.

Kit Peel, who won the 2013 Ian McMillan New Nature Writing Award, said they hoped to make NiddFest the UK’s leading nature writing festival for adults and children.

He said: “To my knowledge, there is no ongoing literary festival in the world focusing on nature writing. Given the huge popularity of this genre in recent years its seemed something we should be addressing.”

This brand new literary festival celebrating nature in writing for adults and children couldn’t have made a better choice for its inaugural event than Carol Ann Duffy

A keen supporter of children’s events, her NiddFest date is typical of a writer who has been keen to bring poetry to the heart of British life and broaden its audience since she first became Poet Laureate in 2009.

She once said: “I’m working on developing the whole idea of the poetry reading - trying to come up with new ideas for the actual form of the poetry reading. Potentially that’s the way to get more people to read.”

As illustrated by Catherine Hyde, The Princess Blankets tells the story of a princess who can’t get cold, until she is rescued from a terrible spell.

In the run-up to Duffy’s appearance next month, organisers have linked up with the Harrogate Advertiser Series in a district-wide poetry writing competition for children.

NiddFest Literary Festival is looking for poems written by primary school age children in the HG postcode area.

The winning entries will be published in this newspaper and prizes will be awarded by Carol Ann Duffy.

Among the judges is the Harrogate Advertiser’s Graham Chalmers.

Poems for the Carol Ann Duffy competition must be submitted to the NiddFest website, www.niddfest.com/competition by a closing date of July 12.

The poems can be of any length, but they must have a nature theme.

Set in unique venues and outdoor locations in Upper Nidderdale, the first full Niddfest is set to take place July 24-26, 2015 .

It will offer a weekend of talks by some of the UK’s leading nature writers in fiction and non-fiction linked to fun outdoors events in the Dale.

The NiddFest committee is also looking for volunteers to help organise NiddFest 2015.

If you are interested, please visit the Niddfest website or their Facebook page.

To book tickets for Carol Ann Duffy’s appearance, call 01423 712950 or book online at www.niddfest.com