Readings and events


Royal Literary Fund

I've been working this year at Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, running a reading group for young people with mental health problems on behalf of the Royal Literary Fund. The group happens once a week in term time. It began in September 2018 and finished in June 2019. 

A library in a day - fundraising for Fabrica

With artist Jane Fordham, I helped organise a fundraising event for Brighton's leading contemporary art gallery, Fabrica, on February 23. Teams of artists and writers collaborated to create unique books and build a library in a day. 

Writing retreat

At the end of March I took five weeks off to house-sit in Mallorca and write. Some of this was final edits to A Friable Earth, some was time to focus on short stories and a travel memoir. 

The Apple Project

In July 2019 I was asked to run workshops at Wisley RHS garden in Surrey, for two groups of people on behalf of Daisyfest. The Apple Project culminates in an exhibition in October 2019. One group is based at The Grange Centre in Surrey, the other, Creative Response, is based in Farnham. 


Photo by Giya Makondo-Wills

The Garden Museum Literature Festival Saturday 7 July at 12 midday: A friable earth

I'm reading new poems that focus on the allotment and ageing, talking about the influence of other writers, from Culpeper to Atwood and featuring slides of work by two artists: Jane Sybilla Fordham's Allotment paintings that turn polytunnels into ghostly absences and Giya Makondo-Wills' Allotment Spa photos - a surreal interpretation of the health benefits of growing vegetables. 

Begun in 2013, the world’s only festival dedicated to writing inspired by gardens has travelled from garden to garden across Britain, but this year – for one time only – will take place in London, to celebrate the reopened Museum and our new gardens and café. Chefs from our lauded new restaurant will also be creating a special menu for the weekend for guests to savour.*

Christopher Woodward, Director of the Garden Museum, says:

‘We began our Festival to celebrate good writing inspired by gardens, whether design and art, memoir or fiction. We’ve skipped from garden to garden, with a programme inspired by each place: Serge Hill, the walled garden at Petworth, Hatfield House and last year Boughton House, a slumbering Baroque masterpiece in Northamptonshire. 
Painting by Jane Sybilla Fordham

"This year the Festival is coming to London to celebrate our new building, gardens – and the talents of our chefs Harry Kaufman and George Ryle. And to share the many garden stories that London has to tell.

"The joy of this Festival is that it’s small, friendly, and fresh. You won’t be queueing at the back of a big tent to hear a speaker trotting out their on-tour talk. Just green voices and green thoughts in an urban oasis."


From 22 March - 8 April, The Garden Museum in London will be showing a collection of poems I wrote after a day in Vauxhall Gardens. 

A Poet in the Garden is an exhibition exploring the perspective of those who use Vauxhall Gardens every day. My poems are based on conversations.

The exhibition is the result of a project created by curators Max Jones and Ryan Blakeley which aims to start a dialogue around the nature of our relationships with green spaces of the city. They chose Vauxhall Gardens as the focus because of its rich history.

On 28 March at 6.30 pm I'll be talking about the poems. 

Shoreham Poem-a-thon for Royingya Refugee children

I'm MC for the afternoon at this event, along with Michaela Ridgway. I haven't had anything to do with organising it but will be introducing people and will read one or two of my own poems in the afternoon. 

Poet Sharon Black has invited me to tutor on her creative writing programme in France from Friday 18 - Friday 25 May. 

Other tutors are Michelle Roberts, Bill Greenwell, Lucy Wadham and Roselle Angwin. Here's the link for booking:

The centre is in a beautiful, isolated part of the Cevennes mountains. I'll be running workshops and offering one to one support on work in progress during the week. This is an opportunity to work in a small group and really focus on moving your work on. 


Three small group poetry workshops

I am running three small group poetry workshops for just six people starting on September 30. Limiting numbers will allow more time to read back work and for discussion. Each workshop will combine reading poems by contemporary writers with a number of writing exercises to generate new work. The workshops will take place in Brighton from 11am - 4 pm on Saturday September 30, Saturday October 14,  Saturday October 28. Each workshop will cost £40, payable in advance (no refunds for cancellations seven days or less before workshop). Contact me by email: willsdotjackieatgooglemaildotcom - make sure you include a return email address and if possible a telephone number. Deadline for booking all workshops is September 22. Workshops will only run if there are six people booked in for each date - I will confirm with interested participants on September 23. 

Holding the line 8 April 2017 at The Grey's, Southover Street, Brighton. 

I was compere and organiser along with Michaela Ridgway and Helen Dixon for this event, set in motion by London poet Jacqueline Saphra: a day of artistic activism and excellence, fund-raising and spirit-raising. There were events in Cumbria, Colchester, Cambridge, Oxford, Dewsbury and elsewhere in the north west and south west of England.

The Persisters is a newly established network of feminist poets and artists -  intersectional, inclusive and concerned about the turning tide in the rights of women and all minorities.

Liz Aggiss performing at the event. Photo: Michaela Ridgway


Brighton Poemathon: Sunday December 11, Komedia Studio Theatre, Brighton
60 poets read for 8 minutes each to raise funds for displaced people. I'm one of the organisers, will be one of the comperes. This is a non-stop 10 hour event. Each poet raises their own sponsorship. 

Back with the Aldeburgh Eight!
Saturday February 27
I'll read one, but this is a showcase evening for the eight poets who were selected for the prestigious Aldeburgh Eight scheme run by the Poetry Trust last year. It's at the Poetry Cafe at the Poetry Society Headquarters in Covent Garden at 7.30 pm

Handling pain
Saturday March 5
I'm running a poetry workshop in Cardiff for children with IBS to explore metaphors to express pain and the lifestyle changes they have to adapt to with this condition. It's for the charity CICRA.

Word and image
Thursday June 30
How Jane Fordham and I have worked together for nearly 10 years: an evening of images and words at the Red Roaster cafe in Brighton organised by PigHog, with Gary Goodman, Katie Sollohub. 

Species books at the South Downs Poetry Festival
Saturday July 16
A workshop on making species books for the new South Downs Poetry Festival. The event is at the Linklater Pavilion in the Railway Land nature reserve at Lewes, East Sussex. I'll be reading in the evening with John Davies, Janet Sutherland, Mandy Pannett and Patrick Bond. 

Royal Literary Fund
My Reading Round group for the RLF continues on Tuesday afternoons at the Friends Meeting House in Brighton. 

Making artist books - workshop series with Jane Fordham
Spring 2016
A series of three workshops 
A full day workshop
A cross-arts masterclass
The venue will be Fabrica Gallery in Brighton, dates to be confirmed. 


November 2015

I'm co-tutor with Peter Sansom of The Poetry Business in Sheffield, iconic publisher of The North, on the Aldeburgh Eight - a unique mentoring scheme for poets run by The Poetry Trust. So we'll be at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and then for a week, working with the eight poets intensively at Bruisyard Hall. 

10 October 2015

I'll be one of many people reading at this event. The poet Mandy Pannett edited the anthology and launches it in Brighton on October 10 at Exeter Street Hall, 16-17 Exeter Street, BN1 5PG, 6.30 pm - 9 pm. Doors and bar open at 6pmEntry is £5 for guests and all proceeds from ticket sales go to Médecins Sans Frontières, as well as £5 for every copy of the anthology sold.

September 2015

It was good to be part of Brendan Cleary and Gary Goodman's tour of Brighton. I read with Alex Brockhurst at the Earth and Stars pub on 23 September to an intimate audience upstairs, sustained by a beer whose name began with Grumpy. 

April 2015
Tuesday 7 April
In conversation with Mimi Khalvati

Saturday  25 April
Wenlock Poetry Festival, 11 am

June 2015

Sunday June 21
Aldeburgh Music, Poetry at the Pumphouse
with Tiffany Atkinson