After featuring in the BBC Proms Poetry and the Bread & Roses awards, Barry Smith's debut collection explores the notion of life as performance. There are poems on both classical and popular music, art, theatre, poetry and clowns. It is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows in a richly cultured landscape where readers, as both protagonist and audience, are called upon to measure their own experiences against the poet's multi-layered exploration of the rituals of performance.

Barry Smith, Performance Rites, Waterloo Press, £12

Praise for Performance Rites

'Nourished by the poet's deep love of music, art, and place, these are wide-ranging poems, full of observed detail, wit, and a fully-realised sense of history. In keeping with the title, the poems possess a vivacious performative energy. A rewarding collection.' Penelope Shuttle.

'The poems vividly and sonorously celebrate moving connections between the communal culture of music, theatre, art and the individual's imaginative journey.' Stephanie Norgate.

'In these poems, the reader's awareness is sharpened wonderfully to the different perspectives and values the everyday can perform...versions and performances of all things seen.' John Haynes (Costa Poetry Award winner, 2006)

'A wordsmith has crafted the poems in this collection. The title poem, Performance Rites, is both powerful and poignant. In structure and development, it is a masterpiece.' Mandy Pannett (The Sentinel Literary Quarterly).

'The fusion of poetry and jazz was often near-perfect..' Greg Freeman on Barry Smith and the Charlotte Glasson Trio at Blakefest.


Barry Smith


Barry Smith is the host of Open Mic Poetry at New Park Centre, Chichester, which runs on the last Wednesday of most months at 7.30pm. Together with Joan Secombe, he is the director of Chichester Poetry and editor of Poetry & All That Jazz. Barry is the director of South Downs Poetry Festival. His collection, Performance Rites, is available from Waterloo Press.


Poetry & All That Jazz magazine is published annually in connection with the Poetry & Jazz Café, the headline poetry event of the Festival of Chichester. It brings together emerging writers with established poets. Contributors include Andrew Motion, Don Paterson, Matthew Sweeney, Mario Petrucci, Vicki Feaver, Stephanie Norgate, John Haynes, Clare Best, Brendan Cleary, Susan Utting, Simon Jenner and Frieda Hughes amongst others. Please see our Magazine page for more details.



Barry Smith has worked in education, as a theatre director and reviewer of books and plays (TES), as well as being the author of various articles on creativity in education. Barry is currently the Co-ordinator of the Festival of Chichester, a month long celebration of the arts. He is Director of Chichester Poetry, which runs the Open Mic Poetry and A Celebration of Poetry events in Chichester, as well as the Poetry & Jazz Café as part of the Festival. He is co-editor of the magazine, Poetry & All That Jazz. In 2018, Barry became Director of the South Downs Poetry Festival. 

Barry's collection, Performance Rites, is available from Waterloo Press.

Barry’s work has appeared online, on youtube and in magazines. He was runner up for the BBC Proms Poetry Competition with Bruckner’s Eyeglass and shortlisted for the Bread & Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word award 2021 for The Masks of Anarchy. Recent readings include performance poetry and jazz with the Charlotte Glasson Band at Blakefest. Recent poetry publications include Clown Town in the online magazine London Grip (December 2016), Being & Nothingness in Acumen magazine (January 2017), River in the Stony Thursday Book (January 2017), This Way Up in Ver Poets Anthology (July 2017), Home Front in London Grip (December 2017), Pilgrims of Night in Acumen (January 2018), Transubstantiation in The Frogmore Papers (91, Spring 2018), Dallas Belle in South Poetry (May 2018), Antigone in the Stony Thursday Book (Oct 2018), Gift in The Journal (Summer 2018), Synaptic and I and I (Indivisibility) in Agenda Online Supplement (June 2019), Home Front in Agenda vol 52 (Nov 2018), Elizabeth, Expectant in South 60 (Oct 2019), Deep Water in London Grip (June, 2020), Looping the Loop in The Journal (June, 2020), River in Poetry South East (June 2020), On the Rocks in South 62 (Oct 2020), The Masks of Anarchy in Culture Matters (Jan 2021), The Music of the Spheres in Littoral, Candlemas edition, (Feb 2021), Between a Rock and a Hard Place/Artistic Licence in Orbis 195 (March 2021), Noli Me Tangere in Littoral, Spring Equinox edition (March 2021), Towards Church Norton in South 63 (April 2021) and Broken Glass in London Grip (Sept, 2021).

You can view Clown Town by clicking on the link.The December issue of London Grip New Poetry can be found on-line at

The Masks of Anarchy can be found online at:


Performance Poetry

Barry works as a performance poet reading his own poetry with jazz and roots musicians, including Jamie Leeming (jazz guitar), Liam Ruth (roots guitar), David Johnson (keyboards) and the Charlotte Glasson jazz trio. You can view Barry performing On the Rise with Charlotte Glasson band at Blakefest 2019 by clicking on the link below:


Blakefest 2019 - Smith’s own poetry contribution involved a fine collaboration with Charlotte Glasson’s jazz trio...The fusion of poetry and jazz was often near-perfect, particularly in poems about legendary bassist Herbie Flowers’ role in Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, and another about a Paul Klee painting that transmuted into powerful and moving lines about the Holocaust. (Greg Freeman, Write Out Loud) 

Smith's set with the Charlotte Glasson jazz trio was fabulous. (Louise Taylor, poet, comedian, workshop leader)

Thank you to 'Beatnik' Barry Smith for his properly jazzed up poems, performed with Charlotte Glasson and her band. (Naomi Foyle, poet, novelist, editor).


You can watch videos of Barry reading some of his poetry at Write Angle by clicking on the link below. Poems featured include: Bosham Harbour, Bath Comforts, The Last Jew in Vinnitsa, Off Your Trolley, Endgame, Eternal Riff, Broken Glass and Strictly X Factor: the Return of Dirty Den.


Knight Life

For 25 years, Barry Smith and Joan Secombe edited the multi-prize winning magazine of young people’s creative writing, Knight Life. Awards included W.H. Smith Young Writers, Cadburys, Poet of the Month (TES, many times), Ver Poets, Poetry on the Buses, Foyles, Mary Glasgow, the Roald Dahl Foundation, Shelter/Waterstones and the Poetry Society. Contributors include Sam Meekings, James Simpson and Liz Adams who have all gone on to publish full poetry collections.


Barry Smith: Readings

 Keats in the Making: sculpture and poems, Lavant, 22 June, 2016

 Priory Park Festival (with Maggie Sawkins and John Davies), 10 July, 2016

South Downs Poetry Festival, Weald & Downland Museum, Singleton (with Stephanie Norgate, James Simpson, Alan Morrison), 21 July, 2016

 Stony Thursday, Granary Library, Limerick, 19 January, 2017

 Eve of St Agnes, poetry of Keats, Vicars Hall, Chichester, 20 January, 2017

Linklater Pavilion, Lewes, with Wendy Klein, 24 June , 2017

Maltings Theatre, St Albans, Ver Poets anthology readings with Tamar Yoseloff, 8 July, 2017

South Downs Poetry Festival, Chichester Cathedral (with Sam Meekings, Stephanie Norgate and actor Gareth Williams), 11 July, 2017

Harlington Manor, Beds, with jazz pianist David Johnson, 5 August, 2017

Eve of St Agnes, poetry of Keats, St Pancras Church, Chichester, 20 January, 2018

The Golden Thread, Story, Poetry and Prosecco, St Huberts Church, Finchdean, Hants, with James Simpson, Gabrielle Kimm and Melanie Penycate, South Downs Poetry Festival, 7pm, 25 May 2018

Poetry and Music, Chichester Cathedral, with Robyn Bolam, Stephanie Norgate and actor Gareth Williams, Festival of Chichester/South Downs Poetry Festival, 6.30pm, 10 July, 2018.

Paintings, Poetry and Prosecco, Andy Waite's Studio, Tarrant Street, Arundel, with Anne-Marie Fyfe, C.L. Dallat and South Downs Poets, Arundel Festival, 7.30pm, 23 August 2018.

Blakefest, Regis Centre, Bognor Regis, with Jamie Leeming on jazz guitar, Sasha Dugdale and Naomi Foyle, 4pm 15 September, 2018.

South Downs Poetry Festival at Weald & Downland Museum, Singleton, Sussex, with Maura Dooley and Stephanie Norgate, 6pm 12 September, 2018.

War and Peace, marking the centenary of the end of World War 1 in 1918, Midhurst Church, Sussex, with Lord Egremont, Patricia McCarthy, Steven O'Brien, Jeremy Page, Stephanie Norgate and South Downs poets and musicians, 7.30pm, 7 November, 2018.

Agenda launch, 1918 anniversary edition, Ditchling Museum, Hassocks, 7pm, 1 December, 2018. 

Keats in Chichester, a dramatic reading, St Pancras Church, Chichester, 6pm, 19 January, 2019

Launch of Poetry & All That Jazz magazine, with Robyn Bolam, Brendan Cleary, Janet Sutherland, Kay Syrad, Hugh Dunkerley and others, John Harvey Tavern, Lewes, 4.30pm, 9 June, 2019

St John's Chapel, Chichester, poems set to roots music, with Liam Ruth and Louis de Bernieres, 7.30pm, June 20, 2019

Poetry and Music, with Dame Patricia Routledge, Stephanie Norgate and James Simpson, Chichester Cathedral, 6.30pm, 9 July, 2019

Poetry Cabaret, MADhurst Festival, with Maggie Sawkins and MandyPannett, Angel, Midhurst, 7.30pm, 15 August, 2019.

Poetry, Paintings and Prosecco, with Clare Best, Arundel Festival, Frances Knight's Studio, Arundel, 7.30pm, Fri August 23, 2019

Paintings, Poetry and Prosecco - Ivon Hitchens exhibition at Pallant, with Penelope Shuttle, at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, 6pm, Thursday 19 September, 2019.

Blakefest, with Charlotte Glasson Band, Andy Brown, Alan Morrison, Raine Geoghegan and others, Regis Centre, Bognor Regis, 12 noon onwards, Saturday, 28 September, 2019.

Celebrating Keats in Chichester, in partnership with the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association, dramatic readings of La Belle Dame sans Merci and the Letters of Keats and Fanny Brawne, with James Simpson, Emily Rose Smith, Stephanie Norgate and others, St Pancras Church, Chichester, 6pm, 18 January, 2020

South 62 Launch, via Zoom, 7.30pm, 12 November, 2020. With Wendy Klein, Camilla Lambert, Kitty Coles and other poets.

Celebrating Keats: the Bicentenary, YouTube premiere with actor Rosie Cavaliero, poets Stephanie Norgate, James Simpson, Barry Smith, Chris Hardy and others  7pm 18th February 2021 and thereafter by clicking on the link 

Shakespeare's Birthday Party, by Zoom, 7.30-8.30pm, 23rd April 2021, readings with poets including Timothy Ades, Richard Williams, Barry Smith and others. Organised with Dempsey & Windle.

Poetry and Music, with Dame Penelope Keith, Stephanie Norgate and Hugh Dunkerley, Chichester Cathedral, 7pm, 6 July, 2021.

National Poetry Day 2021: launch of Performance Rites, with Stephanie Norgate, at The Novium, Chichester, 7th October 2021.

Petworth Litfest, Poetry Breakfast with Louis de Bernieres and Barry Smith, 10.30am, Sunday 31st October, 2021, Leconfield Hall, Petworth.

Arts Junction, The Vic Institute, Arundel. 7.30pm Monday 14th February, 2022. 

Needlewriters, Lewes, The John Harvey Tavern, Thursday 14th April, 2022, 6.30pm

Words Out Loud, in-person and on zoom, Words Out Loud, Chichester, Wednesday, 20th April, 2022, 6.30pm. Live at Wagtail Coffee and Yoga, Eastgate or on zoom via link from Words Out Loud website.

Poetry and Music, Chichester Cathedral, 7pm, Tues 5th July, 2022 with Roger McGough and pianist Elena Toponogova.

Shout Out for Shelley, College of Richard Collyer, Horsham, 7.30pm, Fri 8th July 2022, Shelley bicentenary with Attlla the Stockbroker and multi-instrumentalist Charlotte Glasson.

Poetry at the Fringe, Canal Basin Cafe, Chichester, Sat 16th July 2022, 6pm, with Chris Hardy, Denise Bennett, Nicola Garrard.

Shelley & Co, Poetry Cream Tea, Alexander Hotel and Spa, East Grinsted, 3pm, 24th July 2022, with Stephanie Norgate

Flights of the Mind, MADhurst, Memorial Hall, Midhurst, Thurs 11th August 2022, 7.30pm, with Stradivarius Piano Trio, Stephanie Norgate.

Jazz Meets Poetry at the Jailhouse, Arundel Festival, Mon 22 August, 2022, 8pm, with Big House jazz band and poets Chrs Hardy, Raine Geoghegan and Naomi Foyle.

The Lightbox, Woking, guest reader, Thursday 26th August, 2022, 8pm

The Art of Chichester - the City's Poets, The Novium, Chichester, 7.30pm, Wed 9th Nov 2022, with Kate Mosse, Stephanie Norgate, Hugh Dunkerley and a panel of Chichester poets

Agenda Poetry Evening, White Hart Hotel, Lewes, BN7 1XE, with David Harsent, Patricia McCarthy, Timothy Ades and SDPF poets. Free entrance. NOTE - POSTPONED UNTIL 2023. Apologies but we look forward to running this event soon. Please see for information.



 Bruckner’s Eyeglass


At the exhumation of Beethoven

the disciples and the ghouls gathered to watch

dank earth that smothered the master’s mortal


remains shovelled aside: see it crazily

piled on the graveside, gradually

releasing the casket which imprisoned


the emperor of music; did those assembled

edge closer in hope to hear the gathering

whisper of the hymn of joy, or step back


in disdain, dismay and stifled despair?

As cold iron lever ground on splintered wood

the diffident, bucolic maestro


leant forward to stare, ear and eye to eye and ear.

All being accomplished, and Beethoven

returned to rest, the spectators dispersed


in a solemn diaspora of presence.

Herr professor, said one of Bruckner’s crowd,

where is your eyeglass? Bruckner, enraptured,


absently brushed his brow and realised

ocular absence. He stopped, searched and shyly

smiled: it lay now with his love for ever.


Barry Smith