The Golden Thread – Story, Poetry and Prosecco – Friday 25th May 2018, 7.00pm

As part of the SOUTH DOWNS POETRY FESTIVAL www.sdpf.org.uk/

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Enjoy a delightful mix of words and music in historic St Hubert’s Church with guitarist Geoff Robb, novelist Gabrielle Kimm and South Downs poets James Simpson, Barry Smith and Melanie Penycate.

Described as an ‘outstanding guitarist’ by the Argus, Geoff Robb entertains with classical, Spanish and Celtic tunes. Gabrielle Kimm is the author of four well-received historical novels including His Last Duchess. James Simpson is a Jerwood/Arvon award winner with two poetry collections – Hunting the Wren and The Untenanted Room – plus collaborations with artist Carolyn Trant. Melanie Penycate’s poetry publications include Feeding Humming Birds. Barry Smith’s poems have appeared in Acumen, London Grip and Frogmore Papers.

Tickets:£7.50 (to include a glass of prosecco)



Festive Jazz Cafe

James Simpson is featuring at the upcoming Festive Jazz Café.

“Then we come to one of the highlights of the year, the Festive Jazz Cafe at St John’s Chapel, Chichester 7.30pm on Thursday 7th December. A fantastic line-up is headed by TV, film and stage star Dame Patricia Routledge. She’s joined by actor and million-selling pop star Gareth Williams from the Flying Pickets, actress Emily Rose Smith and Sussex poet Jerwood/Arvon award winner James Simpson.
Plus of course jazzy seasonal music from the evergreen Jazz Smugglers Band. And free mince pies! All proceeds go towards the 2018 Festival of Chichester, so come along, have fun and support the festival. Tickets £12 (students £10) from Novium, 01243 775888 or http://www.thenovium.org/boxoffice”


Heyshott Harvest

Heyshott Harvest is now published in the October/November issue of The London Magazine, England’s oldest literary journal.

Tiger Head Sonnets

Tiger Head Sonnets XVIII and XIX are to be published in the August/September issue of The London Magazine, England’s oldest literary journal.


Landscape and Literature


Sunday 9 April 2017

‘Landscape and Literature: writers reflect on the South Downs and what it means to them and their writing.’

10.30am – 4pm

The Event

10.30                     Museum opens

10.45 – 11.00       Refreshments and registration

11.00-12.15         Alexandra Harris in conversation with Suzanne Joinson

Alexandra Harris is the author of Romantic ModernsVirginia Woolf and, most recently, Weatherland: Artists and Writers under English Skies, which was serialised on Radio 4 and shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize. She is Professor of English at the University of Liverpool and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She grew up near Pulborough, enjoys spending time on the Downs, and hopes to write about the cultural history of Sussex.
This talk will be followed by a Q&A.

12.15-1.00          Clare Best and Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis launch their book Springlines

The idea for Springlines came from a walk on the South Downs in the drought of spring 2012. Starting that day, Clare and Mary Anne went in search of bodies of water that are concealed, forgotten or overlooked. They found places rich in history, wildlife, culture and myth.

This book presents work they made about some of those watery places – from dewponds to ancient wells, from old clay pits to furnace ponds, from chalk springs to the man-made pools at Glyndebourne, celebrating the variety and vitality of water.

Mary Anne’s paintings and drawings sit with Clare’s words, alongside short pieces by other contemporary writers. A selection of nineteenth-century British watercolours by Cotman, Cristall, Edridge, Turner and others – each treating water subjects – completes this exploration of some of the most evocative hidden corners of English landscape.

Clare Best is the author of four volumes of poetry and a prose memoir. She works across two abiding interests – landscape and body. She has written places as different as the Lincolnshire Fens and Lake Maggiore, but keeps returning to the South of England where she lives.

Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis’ main focus throughout her career has been landscape. She concentrates on specific pockets of landscape, building up paintings which examine the elements that make a place unique. Glimpse and memory characterise her work. She has lived in Sussex most of her life.


1.00-2.30              Lunch and time to explore the Museum

2.30-3.45              Poets Sasha Dugdale and James Simpson read from their work and talk about how the South Downs has been a source of inspiration for them.

James Simpson is a Jerwood/Arvon writing fellow and was a prizewinner in the Thomas Hardy Society’s James Gibson Memorial Poetry Competition. His most recent collection of poetry is The Untenanted Room (Agenda Editions).

He has collaborated with the artist and printmaker Carolyn Trant on the artist’s book, Hunting the Wren (Parvenu/Actaeon Press) which was purchased by the British Library (Modern British Special Collections), Louisiana State University (LSU Libraries) and the University of Georgia (Main Library). Recently they have worked together on the artist’s book The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter.



Poet Sasha DugdaleSasha Dugdale is a poet, translator and editor. She has published three collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Red House (Carcanet, 2011). Her long poem ‘Joy’ won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2016. Sasha is editor of Modern Poetry in Translation and the international anthology Centres of Cataclysm (Bloodaxe, 2016). She is currently working on a commission to write a long poem about Wolstonbury Hill on the South Downs.


3.45-4.00              Refreshments and finish

Event organised as part of the residency of Suzanne Joinson at the Weald & Downland Living Museum in 2016-2017. Funded by Arts Council England.

Part of the South Downs Poetry Festival, Green and Pleasant Land will be held at the Weald & Downland Museum, Singleton, in one of their historic grade 1 listed buildings with actor Michael  Jayston, star of oscar-winning film Nicholas and Alexandra, reading William Blake. Plus Sussex poets Stephanie Norgate, Alan Morrison, Barry Smith and James Simpson. Live music from classical guitarist Linda Kelsall-Barnett.

Tickets from the Museum, South Downs Poetry Festival or Chichester Tickets at Cloisters Shop, Cathedral, 01243 813595, http://www.chichestertickets.co.uk/


James Simpson will be reading at the Poetry &  Jazz Cafe at Edes House, 7.30pm on Thursday 30th June.

The headline guest is Don Paterson, reading from his new collection, 40 Sonnets, as part of the Festival of Chichester.

Gypsy jazz, in the style of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, will be performed by  violinist Mike Piggott and guitarist Nils Solberg.

Other poets lined up to read are John Haynes, Stephanie Norgate, James Simpson and Hugh Dunkerley.

Tickets from Cloisters Shop, Chichester Cathedral, 01243 813595, www.chichestertickets.co.uk