National Poetry Day Live, now in its 5th year, featured a full programme of poetry readings from 1pm through to 6pm.
Proceedings began with presentations to this year’s successful Foyle Young Poets:
- Magnus Dixon, 12, Aberdeenshire
- Lamorna Tregenza Reid, 13, Cornwall
- Laura Harray, 13, London
- Jennifer Burville-Riley, 14, Sevenoaks
- Caroline Harris, 16, California
- Esme Partridge, 16, Oxford
- Emma Lister, 16, Devon
- Phoebe Stuckes, 17, Somerset
- Imogen Cassels, 17, Imogen
- Grace Campbell, 17, Edinburgh
- Jessica Walker, 17, Cumbria
- Ila Colley, 17, Cumbria
- Catriona Bolt, 17, Bury St. Edmunds
- Dominic Hand, 18, Oxford
- Ian Burnette, 17, South Carolina
The Foyle Young Poets competition was judged by Hannah Lowe and David Morley (both of whom gave readings of their own work during the afternoon) and the winning poems will be published in Spring 2014 in the Winners Anthology – which is distributed to schools, libraries, poets and arts organisations right across the UK. Up until then you can read the poems on The Poetry Society website: http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/competitions/fyp/.
John Hegley was both compere and performer, with SLAMAmbassadors UK Artistic Director Joelle Taylor sharing some of the MC duties.
Soon after I arrived, and while there were parties of schoolchildren in the audience, beatboxer Tiana Oldroyd (aka Badabook Tee) demonstrated her skills and conducted a quick mass workshop in the basic techniques of beatboxing.
It was a varied and very enjoyable programme, with the audience receptive to the different styles of reading. A poignant moment came when a recording of Seamus Heaney reading his sonnet ‘The Shipping Forecast’ was played.
The most impressive live reading (I will want to read the poems on the page before I decide how truly impressive a poet this is) was by John Wedgwood Clarke. As a stage presence he has the handsome gravitas to support the slow, portentous enunciation of his poem’s lines. His performance and selection of readings was also the one that fitted most comfortably into this year’s theme of water. He read from his debut pamphlet ‘Sea Swim’, and also from his first full-length collection, ‘Ghost Pot’. I had not been aware of him before now, but will certainly want to read the new collection.
As an aside, I couldn’t help wondering whether the way the excess leather of his belt hung low was accidental or a suggestive affectation.
The photos below are not in order of performance, but are grouped by poet.
John Wedgwood Clarke