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What's On

Browse four days of gala readings, live radio broadcasts, TV and film screenings, music gigs and open mic nights, first edition readings, outreach activity, discussion sessions, cultural tours and workshops.

Day 1
Thursday 28 September / National Poetry Day

Radio 3 Breakfast
6:00 - 9:00

The BBC Radio 3 Breakfast show comes live from Hull University. Petroc Trelawny opens the Contains Strong Language season for the BBC, on National Poetry Day.

University of Hull | Map
The Brynmor Jones Library
(Note there is no audience for this event)

Petroc Trelawny

Free Thinking
11:00 - 12:00

Radio 3’s flagship arts and ideas programme Free Thinking discusses the 17th century Hull poet Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress. Presenter Matthew Sweet will be joined by Michael Symmons Roberts, Helen Mort and University of Hull academic Stewart Mottram.

Hull College | Map
The Horncastle Building
FREE ADMISSION | Book tickets

Helen Mort

1st Edition Reading: Douglas Dunn
11:30 - 12:30

Douglas Dunn opens an exhibition of Hull-related first edition poetry books with a reading from his ground-breaking first collection, Terry Street, published in 1967. A graduate of Hull University, Dunn worked in the library with Larkin who became his mentor. Elegies (1985), written in response to the death of his first wife, earned him further critical and popular success.

Hull Central Library | Map
FREE ADMISSION | Book tickets

1st Edition Reading: Douglas Dunn

12:00 - 17:00

Attachment is a poetic concept, a message in a bottle 2.0. Inspired by the rusty machines of Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely, the fully automatic poetic machine gives physical form to digital messages. Conceived by Swiss designer David Colombini, the machine allows people to send digital messages, images or videos into the air by attaching them to biodegradable balloons.

Waterfront | Map
FREE ADMISSION | More details

Radio 5 Live Afternoon Edition
With Live Performances
13:00 - 16:00

BBC Radio 5 Live broadcast live from Hull College. Sarah Brett talks to Hull ‘17 poets about their work. With performances, plus a focus on Hull as the City of Culture.

Hull College | Map
The Horncastle Building
FREE ADMISSION | Ticketing information coming soon

Sarah Brett

14:30 - 15:30

BBC Radio Humberside and BBC Look North are at the heart of the UK City of Culture, broadcasting live every day from the studios in Queen’s Gardens.

Listeners to BBC Radio Humberside have been composing Poems on a Postcard about where they live in East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire. Resident Landlines poets Dean Wilson and Vicky Foster perform some of the 2017 poems, which will be strung on washing lines to form an art installation in many of the festival locations.

Hull Central Library | Map
FREE ADMISSION | Book tickets

Vicky Foster

Hull '17 Gala Launch
17:00 - 18:30

This special event split over two nights is a Gala showcase of the work of the Hull ‘17 Contains Strong Language poets. This is an unbeatable opportunity to hear a diverse range of work from our resident festival writers.

Kardomah94 | Map
FREE ADMISSION | Book tickets

Hull '17 poets

The Verb
35 Years of Spoken Word
18:00 - 20:00

Ian McMillan presents a special edition of Radio 3’s The Verb as we celebrate the story of spoken word in the UK, with Apples and Snakes on their 35th anniversary. Join John Agard, Grace Nichols, Zena Edwards, Joelle Taylor, Dizraeli, Yomi Sode, John Hegley, Hannah Silva, Debris Stevenson, Chiedu Oraka and Ty.

Jubilee Church | Map
FREE ADMISSION | Book tickets

Zena Edwards

Kathryn Williams
19:30 - 21:30

A performance from Mercury nominated and critically acclaimed folk artist Kathryn Williams. Kathryn doesn’t stick to a tried and tested formula when she writes a new album. She told one interviewer that she wanted to have a career that lasted long enough for her to develop her craft and move through different phases. Eighteen years later, she’s certainly achieved that.

Kardomah94 | Map
Tickets: £15 from

Kathryn Williams

Jo Whiley
20:00 - 22:00

Coming live from the UK City of Culture, Jo brings you a special show on National Poetry Day as part of the BBC’s Contains Strong Language season.

Hull College | Map
FREE ADMISSION | Book tickets

Jo Whiley

The Festival