A Brief History of Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival

We’re delighted and excited to be returning for our 7th year.... Now let’s travel back in time for a moment and remember where we began.

A Mini History of Sterts Theatre & Arts Centre

sterts 3.JPG

Set on the edge of the beautiful Bodmin Moor, Sterts is the perfect location for our festival, which celebrates poetry, dance, creativity and the arts.

Run by volunteers who are passionate about the arts and creative opportunities, Sterts is a unique, covered outdoor amphitheatre renowned for promoting local talent and supporting the arts community. Sterts’ stage has been graced by names such as Jo Brand, Ed Byrne and Josh Widdicombe, and has produced many wonderful local theatre and dance shows.

The theatre is the brainchild of Ewart and Anne Sturrock, who founded it in 1982, after noticing that there was a lack of facilities and resources for creative work to take place within Cornwall. Ewart, who studied theatre at Bretton Hall (where he met Anne who was studying music), was Head of English and Drama at Looe Comprehensive School before founding Sterts. He was passionate about enabling opportunities for people to be creative, particularly those whose talents or gifts were not so obvious or hadn’t already manifested.

A beautiful locale.

A beautiful locale.

Both Ewart and Anne were convinced of the need to provide an arts and environmental centre for children, young people and adults to meet and be creative together, so they embarked on the fantastic project that was Sterts. Transforming the land from a pig farm to an outdoor theatre was a huge undertaking requiring lots of community and financial support, but - as you already know! - it was a great success, opening on 2nd June 1990.

The opening of the theatre was a massive milestone for Cornwall. It has become an important and well-loved part of the Cornish creative community. It’s grown a lot since it started, when there wasn’t a cover so the audience had to shelter under umbrellas.

It was the originality and charm of the theatre that inspired the creation of our festival. The gorgeous open air setting is just such a fantastic place for appreciating the arts!

Origins of the Poetry Festival

Last year's theme: Poetry and Dance.

Last year's theme: Poetry and Dance.

When Carol Ann Duffy suggested that Sterts would make a great venue for a poetry festival, Ann Gray nurtured the idea and decided to make it happen. While busy with the running of her care home, Coombe House, Ann already organised poetry groups, events, readings and workshops.

When she re-connected with fellow poet David, who was a dab hand at running arts centres and festivals, she persuaded him to get on board. They both share a passion for poetry and bringing the best poets to Cornwall. Together, they created our wonderful poetry festival that celebrates its seventh year this May.

The theme of this year’s Festival is connection; younger and more experienced generations of poets coming together, as well as poetry connecting with other art forms, such as illustration, dance, yoga and the environment.

With a guided poetry walk across Bodmin Moor, a free yoga session, a selection of intriguing community dance and visual arts pieces, as well as a fantastic line-up of poets to enjoy, this year promises to be another brilliant celebration of creative expression.


by Charlotte Rayment