On Sunday at the Goldsmith International Literary Festival Richard Halperin and Chris Agee read each for about 20 minutes. These truly are international poets, at home in Ireland, Europe, the USA.
Richard Halperin's debut collection Anniversary is due out from Salmon Publishers sometime this month. Most of what he read came from this volume. His introductions were short and his poems flit about, sometimes using more than one narrator, sometime questioning the listener/reader, sometimes the writer. Many poems are about absences of a loved one and they are set in various places and in various times. The reading made me want to buy the book and study the form and structure of the poems.
Chris Agee's most recent collection is Next to Nothing which records the years following the death of his four year old daughter Miriam in 2001. One sense of the title, Chris explained, is that the book and the poems are nothing compared to the loss itself. Chris spoke freely and at length explaining the circumstances of the poetry.
I was especially impressed with the section entitled ‘Heartscapes’, from which he read a number of poems. This consists of 59 ‘micro-poems’, as he called them, extremely short, written during a very bleak time. His intention was to try to record true and deep ‘heart-feeling’ itself rather than the response to that feeling.
Richard W Halperin has authored Reading and writing poetry: the recommendations of noted poets from many lands on the teaching of poetry in secondary schools for UNESCO which is available for download here.
Chris Agee's Next to Nothing was shortlisted for the inaugural Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.
Congratulations to the Goldsmith Committee on a great event in a beautiful setting.