Monday, March 30, 2009

Poetry Now - The Last Day

Poetry Now over for another year. I attended the final reading yesterday, Sunday, afternoon, three poets - Adam Foulds, Colette Bryce and Carol Ann Duffy - three different styles of delivery.

Adam Foulds' debut book of poetry, The Broken Word (Cape), a poetic sequence set at the time of the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, was published in 2008, and won the Costa Prize for Poetry. Apart from thanking the organisers and saying how much he enjoyed being in Dun Laoghaire he did no introduction but read sections of the poem without comment though Joe Woods, who introduced him, had spoken sufficiently about the theme and scope of the poem. His reading worked well because of the clear narrative in the poem. Any introductions to particular sections would have been an unnecessary break in the flow. The form and content, narrative with dialogue and conversation allowed a dramatic reading which impressed the audience.

Colette Bryce, born in Derry, has published three collections of poetry: The Heel of Bernadette (2000), The Full Indian Rope Trick (2004) and Self-Portrait in the Dark (2008). Her reading had a different tone to it, more the cosy familiar family gathering in the sitting room. Her introductions were chatty and friendly. She mixed old and new poems, starting with a long new poem about growing up in Derry. The audience felt very comfortable with this, recognising familiar placenames, incidents and episodes. She read poems from her other books, including one with the unlikely setting (for a poem) of a carwash.

Carol Ann Duffy is one of Britain’s most popular contemporary poets and is also an acclaimed playwright. She has been tipped to be the next UK poet laureate. The most experienced of the three, she gave a lesson in poetry reading. She started by saying that she would begin with poems which were fun to write and end with poems which were not fun to write. The "fun" poems were three from her The World’s Wife collection where she writes in turn as the wife of Midas, Tiresias and Faust. Witty, conversational, colloquial with wonderful use of rhythm and rhymes these enchanted the audience. The "not fun" poems were from her collection Rapture mostly sonnets with one word titles chronicling a love affair. A different tone to this part of the reading but just as accomplished.

A most enjoyable day to end a most enjoyable festival. By all accounts Saturday, which I missed, was also full of wonder especially the birthday celebration for Seamus Heaney who was present at most if not all the events I attended.

1 comment:

PJ Nolan said...

Nice reviews Michael - brings it all back! I've blogged the Heaney event round my place - who read what, etc. Sorry we didn't meet - so many heads about - maybe next year!?!