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Festival Finale

At The Custom House • Sunday 7th November • 5.30PM – 7:30PM


Back by popular demand after its success in 2019…


In the festival finale, four poets explore the challenge of knowing when – and how – to end a poem. Gill Barr, Elaine Beckett, Helen Evans and Greta Stoddart invite the audience to think about endings: how final lines can kill a poem dead, or let it soar. In other words, how poets find ‘the big church of the poem’s end’. Reading from their latest work, and the poems that inspire them, they’ll reflect on how the life-cycle of different poems connects with human life and death, and re-birth. They’ll consider how smaller endings function within poems: where titles end and first lines begin, line endings, stanza endings and final lines. They’ll also invite the audience to play with different endings composed especially for this event.

Gill Barr

Gill Barr was raised in Derry/Londonderry and now lives in Dorset. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Queen’s University, Belfast and is an experienced teacher of English. Gill’s poems have appeared in publications such as The Honest Ulsterman, erbacce press, Harvest, The New European and Riptide’s Climate Change Matters Anthology. Gill read her prize-winning short-story Skylight at the Bridport Lit Festival in 2017 and appeared at the same festival in 2018 with Annie Freud and Elaine Beckett. She is looking forward to returning to the Exeter Lit Festival with her fellow poets.

Elaine Becket

Elaine Beckett’s debut full length collection Sea Creature Regrows Entire Body is just out with Verve Poetry Press (2021). Her Faber New Poets 13 pamphlet (2016) was described in The Guardian as ‘undeceived and brilliantly evoked.’

Her work has featured in The Poetry Review, Ambit Magazine, The North, etc. In 2020 she was long listed for the National Poetry Competition, short listed for the Bridport Prize, and commissioned by Ledbury International Poetry Festival. She originally trained as a composer and later graduated from the National Film and TV School as a writer director.

Helen Evans

Helen Evans‘ debut pamphlet, Only by Flying, was published by HappenStance Press in 2015 and shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award. She is the facilitator of Inner Room, a project that creates space for people to be creative. She holds an MLitt with Distinction in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews and from 2011 to 2016 worked each year as a tutor on the university’s Creative Writing Summer Programme. She has been placed in the Manchester Cathedral prize and published in various magazines, including The Rialto and The North.

Greta Stoddart

Greta Stoddart’s three poetry books (published by Anvil and Bloodaxe) have won or been shortlisted for prizes such as the Geoffrey Faber Memorial and the Forward Prize, the Roehampton and Costa Book Awards. Her latest work, a radio poem Who’s there? was BBC Pick of the Week and shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award in 2017.


Her fourth book of poems will be published by Bloodaxe in 2022. She lives in Devon and teaches for the Poetry School.