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Monday, 20 September 2010

Saturday's reading

Richard Wilcocks writes:


Katrina Naomi, the first Writer in Residence at the Parsonage, read first on Saturday evening (18 September), mainly from The Girl with the Cactus Handshake. She was powerful, in spite of being a touch nervous I think,  performing just before the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. I was most impressed by Tunnel of Love, probably because I have my own strong childhood memories of her home town of Margate with its fascinating shell grotto and its now abandoned amusement centre for holidaying East Enders, Dreamland. Her teenage memories of the place and its hypnotic tawdriness were conveyed in a confessional and amusing style, making her an excellent lead-in for the dryly humorous Duffy.

We laughed with her: she was as confident as a stand-up, beginning with Mrs Midas and Mrs Tiresias, explaining how she had been troubled by the ancient stories when she had first read them at an early age and how productive it still was to mine Ovid's Metamorphoses, an endlessly glittering seamAt one point she sneezed, and muttered something about just missing a Bible. She can't read often from behind a lectern in a Baptist church, surely. My hope was that she would read Education for Leisure, which in 2008 was removed from a GCSE English Literature Anthology presumably because some numbskulls thought it might encourage knife crime, but she didn't. I would have preferred that to her bee poems. Unlike so many actors, she can shrug off the personas (queens, babies,  burglars, frustrated teenagers...) and speak from her own core, as she proved with her deeply moving poetry about her mother.

The bow at the end was by both performers, linked.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Saturday evening in Haworth, last Saturday, was very very enjoyable.Carol Ann Duffy, humorous with a rather fierce quality, had a good rapport with the large audience.I too enjoyed the poems from 'The World's Wife'-poems which are witty and show a female perspective of characters from history and myths which normally focus on men.I particularly like 'Mrs Midas'- telling of the consequences of the actions and wishes of Midas that everything he touched would turn to gold.
    'turning the spare room into the tomb of Tutankhamun'
    Her poem about going to see her dead mother in a chapel of rest was told very movingly.
    'We first met when your last breath cooled in my palm like an egg'
    Lines like that perhaps accentutate why she was chosen as poet laureate.
    To repeat myself- a very very good evening all round- looking forward to many more.

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