Wise Words

Aims to inspire wonder and encourage curiosity through offering innovative and often unexpected encounters with poetry and storytelling.


The heart of the festival lies in Canterbury’s Secret Garden, belonging to the Franciscan Friars – an unexpected haven just a stones throw from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Thought provoking talks, music, performances, storytelling and poetry take place in a beautiful yurt, tents and in the ancient Franciscan Chapel.  From here activity spills out across the city – onto the streets, in gardens, in coffeehouses and even on the river.

You may stumble across a poet performing whilst you pay for your morning coffee; a storyteller on a punt; lines of verse appearing in shop windows or performance poets on street corners battling for your votes to become the king or queen of the street slam.

“Wise Words has its heart in the stars and its feet firmly on the ground” Lemn Sissay OBE

 Our Mission:

Wise Words reawakens a sense of wonder and encourages people to be curious. We are an arts organisation that works through poetry and storytelling, inviting people to see the world from a different perspective and to take time to pause. Our work is unexpected, intimate and connects strongly with the outdoors, engaging the widest possible audience.

 Why Poetry?

Our hope is for a society within which people are engaged, caring & live their lives purposefully & to the full. We see poetry as more than entertainment. We believe in its ability to act as an agent for change: reaching across differences, inspiring a sense of social responsibility, bearing witness to the diversity and complexity of human experience and helping us to imagine a better world.

Year Round Poetry Programming

We are delighted that support from Arts Council England, Canterbury Connected, Kent County Council and Canterbury Council has enabled us to offer an exciting programme of activity across the year. You may be enticed by one of our cosy poetry slams at the Chocolate café; you may enjoy our Journalling Sessions or Poetry for Wellbeing workshops; you may be excited by our upcoming retreats or you may be a member of our poetry group for young adults, Word Out. Whether you take part in these activities or are keen to discover more, the festival will provide a fantastic platform for you to enjoy what we do with the community year round. 


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