CAN you keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you?
In an increasing stressful world, the words of Rudyard Kipling in his infamous poem, If, are perhaps more fitting than they’ve ever been.
It’s a reminder of how relevant poetry can be and Cheltenham Poetry Festival has plenty of top performers showcasing the power of the spoken word.
Festival organisers are offering a preview of the event next Friday and Saturday with comedy, poetry, cabaret and plenty more.
Bristol-based poet Angie Belcher kicks off the festival preview with her One Woman Show.
She’s performing in the Upstairs Venue Room in Copa, Cheltenham, from 6pm.
The same evening, Chloe the Midnight Storyteller will recite Tales of Lust and Chocolate from 7.30pm.
Chloe, of Northleach, promises the cabaret show will be her naughtiest yet.
The following day, award-winning poetry troupe, Picaresque, will perform a show at Tailors pub in Cheltenham from 2pm.
Back at Copa the same day, Gloucester-based poet and playwright Howard Timms will see his In Tune With Dementia work brought to life about a son who struggles to reconnect with his disabled mother who is suffering from dementia.
The events take place ahead of the official festival which runs from March 28 to April 6.
Highlights include the Cheltenham Poetry Festival Youth Slam – where nine schools battle it out in a war of words – at Cheltenham Town Hall on March 25 and a poetry double-header from Don Paterson and David Briggs at the Everyman Theatre on March 28.
A celebration of one of Gloucestershire’s most famous sons, Laurie Lee, will also take place with an event at The University of Gloucestershire on March 29.
Laurie grew up in Slad, near Stroud, and much of his poetry and prose – including Cider With Rosie – captures the spirit of the Gloucestershire countryside.
On the same day, don’t miss a performance from popular poet John Hegley at the Everyman Theatre.
Festival director Anna Saunders said: “When John Burnside won the T S Eliot Prize this year, he described poetry as the music of what happens.
“We are offering an all-singing, all-dancing festival again this month with a programme that includes slams folk, poetry bands, comedy, theatre and film and even The English Touring Opera.”
For tickets, call 08445 762210. See the full programme at www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk