Live poetry event at Wells Library

A SPECIAL live poetry event is being held at Wells Library with guest poet Barry Smith, the director of the South Downs Poetry Festival. Barry has worked in theatre, education and the arts and his poems draw upon his experiences in these fields.

His new book, Reeling and Writhing, follows his successful debut, Performance Rites. The latest book spins off ideas and themes suggested by Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice books, and offers a retrospective of his poetry from the Sixties up to the Twenties.

Barry said: “My new collection brings together poems written over several decades as well as poems written this year – for example my response to the wonderful Sussex Landscape exhibition recently held at Pallant House Gallery. My poem on the pandemic, The Masks of Anarchy, ends the book. I was delighted that this poem was shortlisted for the Culture Matters Bread & Roses Award, and equally delighted that my new collection has been nominated for the 2023 TS Eliot Prize.

“The title, Reeling and Writhing, comes from a speech by the Mock Turtle in Alice in Wonderland, who goes on to talk of ‘Mystery – ancient and modern’ and I think that description fits my poems very well. I write about nature and ecology, historical events, people and places as well as personal experiences. The central section of the book includes song lyrics written for my theatre productions of Alice, The Country of the Blind and The Mysteries, all staged in Chichester.”

Barry will be reading some of his poetry at Wells Library in Union Street on Tuesday, November 14, at 12.30pm. Entry is free, and everyone is welcome, but people are asked to register interest in advance if possible at or tel: 0300 123 2224.