The Freevese Poetry Festival – A review

Yesterday Brownhills Community Centre opened their doors to host Walsall’s first poetry festival and after the end of a fantastically successful day I think it’s fair to say the area opened its heart to poetry.

In planning since October last year Freevese is the brainchild of Matt Humphries, Ian Davies and myself Richard Archer, our idea being to run a poetry event that would feature talented poets across the region coupled with the chance for local poets to share their work, all to an audience who might be new to poetry.

So what of the day itself? The festival opened with local comic poet Rik Sanders aka Willis the Poet who shared the stage with some of the areas funniest poets before launching in to a blisteringly hilarious comic set of his own. I think it was fair to say this was the funniest I have ever seen Rik and with the audience in tears of laughter Freeverse was off to a brilliant start.

Next up was the first of the festival’s open mic sessions, headlined by the fantastic Holly Daffurn whose raw emotional poetry shone with warmth and beauty, wowing the audience. The festival was always about allowing local poets to join in so it was great to follow Holly with a selection of the area’s talent all bringing their unique voices to the stage.

This was followed by Rob Francis and Paul McDonald and a selection of their pupils from the Department of English at Wolverhampton University. Rob and Paul read from their published works while their pupils entertained the audience with their poems and stories. It was great to have the festival supported by the University and for them to give their time to perform at the event.

While the Wolverhampton University read the festival also ran a free poetry workshop, organised by Scarlett Ward and Sallyanne Rock the workshop was on the theme of finding your poetic voice and was very well attended. Afterwards poets spoke of how the workshop had inspired them to write a poem on its themes and all agreed it had been a great inspirational event.

Sallyanne Rock and Scarlett Ward at the Freeverse Festival, photo by Scarlett Ward

Following on form this was the last of the Festival’s open mic sessions. Opened by local poet Paul Elwell and finished by another great poet from the area Gerald Kells, a great selection of the region’s poets took the mic showing how fantastic the poetry talent is in the region.

Sadly all good things must come to an end and it was time for the final act to take the stage. Poets, Prattlers and Pandiemonailists are a local poetry collective better known as Steve Pottinger, Emma Purshouse and Dave Pitt who finished the day with a marvellous set of poems that were linked in one way or another. The audience enjoyed poems, on the perils of the internet, lost hats and minicab receptionists, all delivered in PPP’s brilliant chaotic entertaining style.

And just like that the Festival was over, nine months of planning culminating in seven wonderful hours of poetry on the day, after thank yous and cheers it was time for everyone to head home. But not after hearing the fantastic news that Freevese will return next year, hope to see you there.

Richard Archer, Mat Humphries and Ian Davies, photo by Jo Humphries.

So all that remains is the thanks.

Thank you to all out headline acts and thank you to everyone who took up the mic to perform in our open mic sets.

Thank you to Scarlett and Sallyanne for running the workshop.

Thank your to Creative Black Country for funding the event and Wolverhampton University for their support.

Thank you to Brownhills Community Centre for hosting the day.

Special big thanks to Jo Humphries for running the merchandise stall and helping sort out the feedback cards.

Fianlly a big thank you to everyone who attended, helped promote the day on socail media or by word of mouth and took the time to tell us how much they enjoyed the festival.

Here’s to the next one.



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