Tour Recap – Oldham Library
Young Manchester-based poet, Adam Lowe, opened the third Next Generation Poets tour event in the poetic surrounds of the Oldham Library. Fresh from publication and mentoring as part of the Complete Works, Lowe gave a bold and provocative reading, touching on subjects of sexuality, science and race. His poems demonstrate a love of form and a necessity to experiment, inverting the Sapphic Ode, writing in Polari dialect, and recounting religious experiences in nightclub toilets. Lowe’s poems are fresh and defiant, packed with loving and fierce imagery, as he describes in ‘The Kiss’: ‘the ovals of mouths bunched into fists’.
Melissa Lee-Houghton’s poetry in her Next Generation Poets 2014 collection, Beautiful Girls, is entirely autobiographical and she explained in her introduction that much of her work is about growing from a teenager into adulthood. In a mesmeric performance, Lee-Houghton let the poems speak for themselves, and those characters that have made an impact on her life seemed conjured into the presence of the room. Finishing with ‘Sixteen’, a poem of which she says “I’m so sad I had to write, but I’m so glad I did”, she stunned the audience:
I make sure
we never drive through that town now, in case I see her –
… thumbing a ride. I wouldn’t take her anywhere.
I wouldn’t know where to take her.
Having appeared on 2004’s Next Generation Poets list, Amanda Dalton was made to think about the first poems she wrote for her debut collection, How To Disappear (Bloodaxe). Aptly, she read ‘Nest’, written in response to the story which first demanded her mind make a poem of it, a woman jilted at the altar who lived the rest of her days in a garden: ‘I’m setting up home without you, unpacking my trousseau in a bed of leaves, singing’. Dalton’s poems felt vibrant and fresh, touching on emotive themes of loss and disconnection across her second book, Stray (2012), which had us waiting eagerly for the third.
Daljit Nagra closed the show, relishing in the feelings of youth he’s acquired since being named on the Next Generation Poets 2014 list. Consequently, he read a number of poems from his first collection, Look We Have Coming to Dover!, as well as a sequence from his latest book, The Ramayana. Nagra has an obvious passion for performance, and his theatrical delivery gave real power to his dialect poems such as ‘Singh Song!’ and does a great job of reeling the audience unsuspectingly in to a hard-hitting motif, as in ‘Yobbos!’, catching a tube home with Paul Muldoon’s Collected Poems and a racially abusive gang of drunks.