As part of the South Downs Poetry Festival, now in its third year, we are running a special Poetry Surgeries event at the Linklater Pavilion in Lewes on Thursday 14th June, from 4 – 6pm.

Following this, there will be an Open Mic at the John Harvey Tavern at 6.45 – 7.45 (doors open 6.30pm) hosted by Barry Smith, director of South Downs Poetry Festival and Chichester Open Mic Poetry, as well as Co-ordinator of the Festival of Chichester.

After the Open Mic will be our regular readings event from 8 – 10pm.

You can come to just one, two or  all three events.

Tickets: £12 all inclusive, or £10 for the afternoon only (Poetry Surgeries) and £5 for the Evening. An evening ticket is for both the Open Mic and Readings (same price whether you come to both or just one). You can pay on the day but please email us to reserve your place on the Poetry Surgeries.

What is Poetry Surgeries all about?

This is a great opportunity to pick the brains of the Needlewriters poets. We’ll be leading small-group discussions and offering one-to-one help. All very relaxed and great value for money.

How it works: We’ll have up to three small group facilitated tables going on through the afternoon, and you’ll be able to sign up for topics you’re interested in when you arrive (see below for what’s on offer). Bring your burning questions, share your own experiences, take part in exercises or simply listen to the discussion.

In parallel, Kay Syrad will be offering a number of 12-minute one-to-one advice sessions, for which you can sign up on the day on a first-come first-serve basis.

To reserve your place please email us at to give us an idea of numbers. Then, pay on the door and choose which table(s) you’d like to take part in.

Who’s offering what

Table 1:  How to kick-start new work with Janet Sutherland
Janet will be discussing some useful exercises to kick-start new work in poetry. From writing exercises to get you going in the mornings to those designed to help you go deeper and further with poems. There will be a chance to try out some of these techniques on the day in five minute exercises, time to ask questions, and handouts to take away so you can try them at home.

About Janet: 
Janet Sutherland has three full collections with Shearsman Books. Her poetry has appeared in many anthologies and in magazines such as Poetry Review, The New Humanist, The London Magazine, The New Statesman. She received a Hawthornden Fellowship for 2018. She is currently working on her fourth collection.

Table 2:  Getting your work published with Jeremy Page
Jeremy will be offering guidance on how to maximise the chances of your poetry appearing in the kind of company you’d like it to appear in. He will share insights into what editors look for, how to make your work stand out and the pitfalls to avoid.

About Jeremy: 
Jeremy Page may be the longest standing editor of a little magazine in the country, having edited The Frogmore Papers since 1983. He has also edited and co-edited several anthologies, including Poems from the Old Hill in 2012. His latest collection of poetry is If Not Now (Integral, 2017).

Table 3:  Putting a collection together with Charlotte Gann
Charlotte will be chatting about pulling poems together into a group – especially, the first time round. When might it help to start thinking in terms of collection rather than individual poems? How might you go about shaping and editing? Choosing a title, or book ‘identity’? Plus, once you’ve completed a first collection, how to pick up the pieces and start again – potentially, in a new direction?

About Charlotte:
Charlotte Gann is an editor by trade. She’s also written some poetry: one pamphlet (The Long Woman, Pighog, 2011; shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award, 2012) and one full collection (Noir, HappenStance, 2016). She’s currently thinking and feeling her way towards a new sequence.

One-to-one advice with Kay Syrad
Kay is available for 12 minute 1:1 discussions about individual poems or other poetry-related concerns.  Slots are limited and may be booked on a first-come first-served basis.

About Kay:
Kay Syrad is Poetry Editor of Envoi and co-founder of the Vert Institute for art events and writing.   Her publications include poetry collections, collaborative art-text works and two novels; her new poetry collection is forthcoming with Cinnamon Press in October. Kay is an experienced tutor and mentor, and is currently co-leading a series of workshops focusing on eco-poetics.

To reserve your place on the Poetry Surgeries please email us at to give us an idea of numbers. Then, pay on the door and choose which table(s) you’d like to take part in.