Third BBC Contains Strong Language festival returns in September

Poet Joelle Taylor.

Tickets for BBC Contains Strong Language, which takes place in Hull September 27th-29th, 2019, are available to book via Hull Truck’s website from Friday 23rd August at 10am.

The three-day festival of national poetry and spoken word returns to Hull following two successful years in the city. Contains Strong Language is produced by the BBC in partnership with Wrecking Ball Press, the British Council, Arts Council England, the Makassar International Writers Festival and others.

This third incarnation of Contains Strong Language promises to be the best yet. The festival will present leading international, national and local spoken word artists alongside brand new voices.  It will combine established poets of global importance with Hull talent, such as the Scottish Makar Jackie Kay (Red Dust Road; Fiere; Reality, Reality)reading alongside Peter Knaggs (You’re so vain you probably think this book is about you) on the Sunday at Hull Truck Theatre 4pm. The incoming Poet Laureate Simon Armitage will be returning to read from his latest collection on Sunday at 4pm Hull College and will also be working with local schools all week to format the performance Zoom!, combining poetry, dance, light and music (composed by John Harle) with an intergalactic theme, shown at Hull College on the Saturday 11am. Adding to the line-up of nationally acclaimed voices, the outgoing Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, will be performing at Hull College alongside two Laureate Choice poets on Sat 28th Sep 4-5pm.

There will be a focus on poetry in translation this year with poets arriving from Indonesia and Northwest Africa to share their work. Adil Latefi from Morroco will be running an interactive workshop with his translator on Saturday 28th at 1pm, with attendees taking part in creating a new translation. On Sunday at 11am there will be readings from the Indonesian poets and further discussion and practical insights into translating poetry, followed by the Indigenous Language Gala at 4pm. Languages closer to home will have their part with Welsh and Shaetlan – the native tongue of the Shetland Islands – featuring in the work of Rufus Mufasa and Roseanne Watt. This festival will be showcasing poetry as the varied and international art form it is, and an art that is increasingly important in a world facing international issues.

19 poets – The Hull 19 – will be resident in the city for three days, presenting special commissions, performances and readings and participating in broadcasts across the entire BBC radio and television network. BBC radio networks broadcasting live from the festival will include Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, 6 Music and BBC Music Introducing. In 2018, the festival reached a broadcast audience of over 6.9 million people across the weekend and millions more across digital.

The festival’s directors are the BBC’s Susan Roberts (Editor Audio Drama and Radio 3’s The Verb) and Wrecking Ball Press editor Shane Rhodes. “Contains Strong Language 2019 follows two extremely successful festivals held in Hull since 2017,” said Susan Roberts. “Once again we will present a packed programme of powerful, eclectic and visionary work that will resonate with audiences both live and via broadcast and online. This really is a celebration of the power of poetry and spoken word.”

Shane Rhodes commented on the continuity of presenting three festivals over three years. He added, “Hull was chosen as the location for the festival due to its vibrant, creative and innovative reputation as the nation’s poetry city. We’re continuing to build on two previous successful festivals that have left people with a hunger for more and we’re taking poetry and spoken word to a wide and growing audience. This year’s programme of work is ambitious and exciting.”

The majority of events at BBC Contains Strong Language are free to attend and are available for booking from 10am on Friday, 23rd August via the Hull Truck Box Office online at  or in person. Attendees are encouraged to book tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Tickets for three paid events – Richard Strange, Rallying Cry and Camille O’Sullivan – can be booked via eventbrite at

For more information about BBC Contains Strong Language visit

[Dave Windass]