The four poets shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award for a first poetry collection gave what felt like the most lively and dynamic reading of the entire festival this afternoon. Thank you and congratulations to Jessica Traynor, Graham Allan, Jean Kavanagh and Caoilinn Hughes. And the winner is Caoilinn Hughes for ‘Gathering Evidence’ (Carcanet Press) Huge congratulations to Caoilinn!
I heard Liz Berry read from ‘Black Country’ at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival in February and enjoyed it so much that I when I heard she was reading again at Poetry Now in Dun Laoghaire, I just had to go along to hear her again. Her reading was just as fresh and engaging. Her poetry is amazing and her Black Country accent and dialect enchanted the entire audience.
Dalgit Nagra, who took so many poetry prizes with his first collection ‘Look We Have Coming to Dover!’ , a book populated by first generation Sikh Punjabi emigrants to Britain and their descendants, read with Liz Berry. Today he read mainly from his latest collection, ‘Ramayana, a retelling’, (Faber & Faber). His was another engaging reading, his retelling of the ancient legend honed for western ears. One could imagine oneself in an intimate family setting listening to a raconteur telling and retelling these tales until one had learned them by heart and could pass them on to a new generation.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay for the screening of ‘Birmingham Is What I Think With, a film about poet Roy Fisher directed by Tom Pickard. I feel I’ve missed out, but it was not to be.
All in all, this year’s festival was really enjoyable. I’m so pleased the festival has been restored to springtime. I think it draws a bigger audience in this time slot, and we had beautiful sunshine to lift the spirits and bring out the Sunday strollers. There was a terrific buzz in the park, on the seafront and harbour and especially at the Lexicon. Well done, Alice Lyons on a cleverly curated poetry festival!