Derby, Derbyshire
Performance Poetry, Plays and Scripts, Poetry

Writer Biography

Jo Bell is a poet, writer and the Director of National Poetry Day. A former archaeologist, her work sometimes focuses on the line between past and present – but equally explores themes of sex, friendship and life as a boat-dweller. She works to narrow the divide between performance poets (who often perform brilliantly but write badly) and page poets (who often write brilliantly but perform badly), and to widen the audience for poetry of all kinds. She works alongside both performance poets (for instance, performing with A F Harrold and Elvis McGonagall) and more traditional poets (being published in Magma and Envoi).

She has produced live tours and designed innovative projects like the Bugged project (running from June 2010) to better use digital media. A native of Derbyshire, she works across the UK. She is also a budding playwright, having written a play for Chester Literature Festival. Jo is working on her next collection of poetry – her first was Navigation (2008).

Photo: Derek Adams


Selected Publications

Bluebeard’s Wives: anthology, Heaventree 2007
Hidden Histories, publication for Derby City Hospitals 2008
Navigation, Cheshire 2008

Contributed To

Journals including Magma, Envoi, Obsessed with Pipework, Fuselit
The Shipwright’s Love Song, pamphl
Lifemarks (ed), anthology, Cub 2007et, 2006

Performances & Workshops

Bunch of Fives – a touring show 2008
Fourpenny Circus – a touring show 2009
Frequent performer at poetry slams and festivals including Larmer Tree Festival, Birmingham Book Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Chester Festival of Literature, Swindon Festival of Literature etc
I am Glastonbury Festival Poet in Residence in 2010.

Prizes & Awards

Envoi International Poetry Competition, 2006
Shortlisted for Peak Poet Laureate 2007
Cheshire Poet Laureate, 2007
Nominated for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, 2010

Available for the following:

  • Lectures / Talks / Panels
  • Live Performances
  • Workshops
  • Community Group Work
  • Work Experience/Qualifications

    As a writer, I am happy to undertake commissions or residencies – I have done residencies for the National Trust, RSPB, Coleridge Cottage, Derby City Hospital and British Waterways.

    I am an experienced speaker and performer, touring with live poetry shows such as Fourpenny Circus and Too Much Information (with novelist Jenn Ashworth). I am a workshop leader. As a former archaeologist I enjoy working with museums and archives; as a boat-dweller, I also work frequently in canal-side locations or venues. My work with communities includes sessions with victims of domestic abuse, young offenders and female prison inmates. Sorry, but I don’t work with schools or children’s groups.

    Directing National Poetry Day and other projects such as a Tale of Three Cities (EM regional writing project) has given me wide experience of project management, fundraising and delivery.

    I also collaborate with designer Hannah Fox on illustrated projects, and have been an editor (eg of Tripod magazine and poetry collections). I have written for broadcast, including a series of programmes on BBC Radio Derby. I am also a playwright, having written a short play for performance at Chester Literature Festival 2010.

    Want to know more?

    You can request more information about this writer by sending an email to info@writingeastmidlands.co.uk.

    My Work

    Publisher: Cheshire CC

    Websites, blogs and links to work