Tour Recap – Ilkley Literature Festival

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Ilkley Literature Festival welcomed the Next Generation Poets Tour last Thursday 9 October with an intimate and affecting set of readings. Leeds-based poet, Paul Adrian, was first up, reading from a selection of poems taking in everything from a gardener in Ancient Japan to Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. Working towards his first pamphlet, Adrian demonstrated a varied range of interests and influences, shedding light on the human condition and leaving the audience startled with his lines: ‘I am drowning in the man I have become’.

Paul Adrian

Tara Bergin was the first Next Generation Poet of the evening to read and the Dubliner gave a lively, effortless performance of poems from her collection, This Is Yarrow. Bergin demonstrates creative and amusingly unique ways of looking, and her poems ‘At the Garage’ and ‘Looking at Lucy’s Painting of the Thames at Low Tide without Lucy Present’ endeared her to the Ilkley crowd. She gave some lovely foregrounding to her poems and, ‘Stag-Boy’ – imagined upon being interrupted reading Ted Hughes’ translations by a Stag Party on a train – was an especial highlight and had the audience wincing with her as her bestial creation banged ‘his rough sides against the seats and/the women, who try to look away: Gallant!’


PBS Director, Chris Holifield, remarked how lucky we were to be able to welcome Ian Duhig to the stage next. A member of 1994’s New Generation List, Duhig is an important voice on the British poetry scene, judged the 2013 T S Eliot Prize and hosts writing workshops for the young poets of Leeds. Reading from new poems to feature in a forthcoming collection, Duhig regaled the crowd with stories and poetry about fascists, witches and Kafka, finishing with a touching sequence on a workshop with ex-soldiers.

Adam Foulds

Adam Foulds closed the show, adding to the varied nature of the performances by reading three chapters from his verse-novel, The Broken Word. In a mesmeric fifteen minutes, Foulds set the scene of his protagonist’s return to Kenya during the British rule and the Mau Mau uprising. In a disturbing tale of violence and conflict, the story arrested the audience with its blunt narrative and startling imagery, as in his final piece, ‘Chapter 4: Facing Ngai’:


‘Faintly from behind the house,

Kate practising with a pistol,

its faint, dry thwacks

a fly butting against a window pane.’


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