Nowra is becoming the centre of the known poetic universe on 2, 3, 4 May with the Shoalhaven Poetry Festival featuring local and interstate poets of all kinds at the Tea Club and the Postman’s Tavern, in the wineries, in the bush, on the internet and on the river.

The Festival begins on Friday night with the official opening and reading/performance. Phil Watts visual extravaganza will kick off the night, then new poet Chrissie Paice from Kiama, Nik Broadbridge from Berry and the prize-winning poet Brook Emery from Sydney will finish off the night. This will take place among poetry postcards sent from all over by poets who couldn’t visit but who want to be part of the festival anyway and by some local poets as well. One of our exceptionally gifted poet-artists, Ross Kalenderidis, has mounted a virtual exhibition (1 May+) at - ‘Mid Life Prices’ are photo collages which are both personal and subjective explorations into how we, sometimes unwittingly, deal with and deal with the barrage of seductive dehumanising values and behaviours in this age. Ross has a deeply ironic and fanciful modes which challenge and fascinate the viewer.

If Friday night doesn’t wear you out you can step out at 8am for a bush walk (departing from the Showground Pavilion). Much loved local Dawn de Ramirez and the acclaimed poet Denis Kevans (from Katoomba) will lead the readings, though anyone can bring their poems to read along the way.

Energetic types will be led back by Dawn, Denis and Riche du Plessis to the Poets at the Pub (Postman’s Tavern) where Dorothy Swoope from Milton/Ulladulla and Rosemary Dorrell will join them. There will be an opportunity for open readings here too. Poets who feel they might want to do a bit more work on their poems before putting them before the public or experienced poets who want to pick another poet’s brains can go to a workshop with either John Jenkins or Jennifer Compton. Chris Mansell, one of the organisers, will take bookings for the workshops (Ring her on 44641 432 or email

Then it’s back for lunch at the Tea Club and an opportunity for people to read to a captive audience (Book for lunch with Riche on 4423 4774). After lunch you can sample wine at three local wineries The Silos, Jaspers Brush and Cambewarra wineries and hear the Wollongong poet Allan Wearne and the Sydney poet Carolyn Gerrish along with Riche du Plessis, Lizz Murphy, Geoff Bolton (who organises a lot locally but is hard to nab for a reading,) and the equally elusive Dorothy Swoope.


At 5pm the evening’s activities at the Tea Club begin with book launches and a special Squidink feature lead by local poet, artist and musician Jen Saunders. The multi-talented Saunders also edits and publishes the literary magazine Squidink – a quirky production which combines the local and the international between two covers. The feature will have items from the issues so far by local writers.

Another local initiative in the literary field, the rich local site ArtsRush ( also features with the ArtsRush Poetry Award. Last year’s winner MTC Cronin set the high standard which looks like being a characteristic of this year as well. Several talented locals will be there and hoping that it will be their name read out on the night to collect the $1000 donated by ArtsRush.

Young poets Tim Cahill, Rob Wilson, Benjamin Frater, Maxine Clarke, Alana Hicks Jerome Van Patten and Bonnie Cassidy will be a highlight of the Festival’s Big Bash on Saturday night. This talented group recently performed Famous Accidents at the Wollongong City Gallery entertaining and challenging their listeners who appreciated their accomplishment as well as their energy and style. They’ll join John Jenkins, a much loved and much published Melbourne poet, Jennifer Compton (poet & playwright) from Canberra and Binalong poet Lizz Murphy with music by Jen Saunders.

For some, however the real highlight of the Saturday night is the Grand Archer Poetry Cup a fun event for everyone who ever thought they’d like to get up and read or perform their poem. Entrants have sixty seconds to prove that they are the best. Last year’s winner, Mick Steinmetz from Brogers Creek is putting on his special poetry socks and sharpening up his literary irony ready for the night. The judges, Kathy Sharpe editor of the South Coast Register and Sandra Lee, editor of Women In Focus will be swayed by the acclamations and comments of the crowd but promise to bestow the honour of having your name engraved on the perpetual trophy to the person who bribes them most on the night. Or the most talented. Organisers would like to think that Sandra and Kathy will be shouting drinks at the party at the Postman’s Tavern afterwards but fear that you’ll have to pay your own way to have a good time.

Chris Mansell, Carolyn Gerrish, Jen Saunders, and talented new poet Irene Wilkie will read with John Jenkins on the Words on Water event held on the ferry on the river which leaves at 10am from Nowra wharf (ring Riche for bookings on 4423 4774). This is a great way to finish off the festival.

[click onto detailed program for you to display or print]

The festival is supported by Arts Shoalhaven, Shoalhaven Arts Board, The University of Wollongong (Shoalhaven campus), ArcGraphics, PressPress, Real Travel and Squidink.

Enquiries: Chris Mansell 02 4464 1432 Riche du Plessis 4423 4774

or email Chris at:

or Riche at: