The trustees of Winchester Poetry Festival are delighted to announce the appointment of a new artistic co-director. The poet and literature programmer Sarah Hesketh joins Sasha Dugdale in developing and shaping the programme for the third festival in October 2018.

Sarah Hesketh is taking over from Keiren Phelan, who has programmed the last two festivals. Keiren will continue on the board of Trustees of the festival.

Festival Chair, Stephen Boyce, said ‘It is a huge pleasure to welcome Sarah Hesketh to our small team. Her wide ranging experience of festival and event programming, combined with her personal engagement with writing and teaching, make her an exceptional Artistic Co-Director alongside Sasha Dugdale. I’m very excited about the imagination and verve they’ll bring to Winchester Poetry Festival 2018.’

Sarah has worked as a programmer in the literature sector for the last ten years including 5 years as Assistant Director at English PEN, where she was responsible for the programming and management of hundreds of events, including the charity’s annual three-day programme of author talks at London Book Fair, the China Inside Out festival and a 3-day festival of international literature, Free the Word! in 2011. Sarah put together The Reading Agency’s first World Book Night programme for libraries and has worked as Event Manager for Open Garden Squares Weekend, London’s annual ‘open gardens’ event.

Sarah said, ‘I am delighted to be joining the Winchester Poetry Festival team at this exciting point in its development. The festival has a great reputation for inspiring audiences with brilliant poets and excellent programming. I’m really looking forward to working with Sasha Dugdale and the rest of the team to create a fantastic line-up for 2018, and ensuring that Winchester Poetry Festival is an unmissable event on the literary calendar.’

Sasha Dugdale, who joined Winchester Poetry Festival to programme the 2016 festival, said, ‘Sarah is that rare thing: a brilliant poet who also happens to be a talented programmer with new insights and inspirations for the festival.
I am really looking forward to getting to grips with the 2018 festival programme and working together with her and the festival team on one of the most imaginative poetry festivals in the UK.’

Winchester Poetry Festival is a biennial three-day festival established in 2014. , and has attracted local, national and international audiences. In 2016 the Winchester Poetry Prize was introduced to the programme and will run in future as an annual competition.