The long nights and short days of winter are just the time to be dreaming about summer and about poetry. We’re bathing in warm memories of Quay Words Summer and relishing the fabulous success of the three very different poets that headlined our first ever season of literature at Exeter Custom House.

Our hugely talented headline poets last summer – Fiona Benson, Raymond Antrobus and Roger Robinson – have all since been in receipt of major awards for their work. In October, Fiona Benson was announced as the winner of the Forward Prize for her collection Vertigo & Ghost. Raymond Antrobus was awarded the Rathbones Folio Prize for his first collection, The Perseverance, which had previously won him the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry. Roger Robinson has just been announced as the winner of this year’s TS Eliot Prize for his collection A Portable Paradise.

At Quay Words readings last July, in the intimate setting of Exeter Custom House, they each enthralled Exeter audiences, with plenty of time for questions, conversation and book signing as well. Roger Robinson performed on the Quayside under cover of the Transit Shed. His beautiful performance of intimate and deeply human poems, accompanied by the dub beats of Vidal Montgomery on bass drew a highly appreciative crowd. Bringing the influence of diverse national and international writing to local audiences is one of our most closely-held aims for Quay Words- we were thrilled, too.

We are looking to the future as well – to summer and poetry in 2020. Quay Words Winter has just launched its first ever short writing courses, ideally timed for hunkering down out of the cold. ‘Writing from Life’ with Lily Dunn and ‘Writing Fiction’ with Virginia Baily run to the middle of March, after which it will be high time for the first ever Quay Words short course in poetry. We’re interested in what writers want from a poetry course and we’d like to hear from you. Are you looking for ways to start, or do you want to develop existing work? Would you like to discover and play with form? Do you seek some tools and tips for keeping going and maintaining your practice? Would you like to explore the work of other poets and develop the essential poetry reading habit? Perhaps you’re more interested in stage than page and you’d like to learn more about performance poetry? You can let us know by email

We look forward to hearing from you. Meanwhile, be sure not miss, the Quay Words launch on Thursday 20th February of the new collection by Exeter poet Lawrence Sail. We hope to see you there.

Helen Chaloner Chief Executive.