I’ve never read any of Gillian Clarke’s poetry and it was impressive (as too was the way she read, in a beautiful clear, crisp voice. It does make a big difference! As much as I love Carol Ann, she does mumble a little bit..!)
It was a lovely event, not least, because a young laureate for Lichfield was awarded her prize and read her poem (with such pride – it brought a lump to my throat!) and Carol Ann Duffy launched her ‘National Poems for Cathedrals’ project, for which she’s going to write a poem for every Cathedral city in England. According to the Festival website, “the National poets of Wales and Scotland, Gillian Clarke and Liz Lochhead, have agreed to join the project, giving it the potential to include every cathedral on the British mainland.” Read more about it here.
I also struggled not to blub when the Poet Laureate read her beautiful poem ‘Premonitions’, about her mother, in which she imagines time going backwards, from the moment of her mother’s death. I’ve heard her read that poem before and it is quite beautiful.
That’s the kind of poetry that I expect from Carol Ann Duffy. She read a couple of others, earlier on in the evening, which niggled at me slightly, as they seemed to be aimed quite directly at ‘Middle England’ – and they didn’t really seem like her kind of poems. One was about not wanting to lose the county names from addresses (apparently the Post Office is phasing them out) and the other,’John Barleycorn’, was a lament for and tribute to, the Great British pub (which was a clever idea but mostly consisted of a long list of pub names!).
But I suppose, even the Poet Laureate has to pander to her audience..!
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the reference to ‘pigs’ in the title… there are painted pigs dotted all over Lichfield (there’s even a ‘Pig Trail’). Here’s Trevor, the Festival Pig….