As many of you know I co-programme the Poetry Arena at the Latitude Festival. The first new names were released yesterday evening at the official Latitude launch. I couldn’t make the launch because, like a good husband, I was attending a home birth support group meeting with my good lady wife. However, my spies tell me that Melvyn Benn, the very charming head of Festival Republic, gave me a big up, which is nice to know.

I’m pretty pleased with the line up this far. I’ve not finished yet, but here are the names released yesterday: Andrew Motion Brian Patten Jackie Kay Simon Armitage Patience Agbabi Aisle16 Paul Farley Luke Kennard Polar Bear Charlie Dark Mik Artistik Joel Stickley Kathryn Simmonds Dizraeli Elvis McGonagall Ross Sutherland Tim Clare Dockers MC

I’m really excited about welcoming Andrew Motion to the festival. I’ve always felt a bit guilty about my routine in Poet Laureate about his rap poem. Whilst the poem was a bit embarrassing, he’s done loads of a good work re The Poetry Archive and I’m looking forward to what he can do now he doesn’t have to drink from the poisoned laureate chalice.

Brian Patten and Jackie Kay are our other headliners and both are favourites of mine. Add to that the likes of Paul Farley, Luke Kennard, Polar Bear and Dockers MC and you’ve got, I think, a rich, varied and incredibly exciting line up. Even if I do say so myself!

I have few more aces up my sleeve, including some pretty interesting and well known lyricists. Watch this space.

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