Tour Recap – Sheffield

The third consecutive night of Next Generation Poets 2014 tour events saw Mark Waldron and Rebecca Goss read as part of Sheffield’s Off the Shelf Festival of Words on 29 October. The show was opened by local poet Ben Wilkinson, fresh from winning both a Northern Writers Award and the Poetry Business’ Competition with his pamphlet, For Real (Smith│Doorstop). Wilkinson’s poems are weighty and cinematic, and his gift for finding the poetry in football terraces as well as crafting lyrical intrigue demonstrate his range and place as an up-and-coming voice on the UK poetry scene – ‘No. The catch was what you could never/let go. It’s what you carried, and still do.’ (‘The Catch’)

Off the Shelf

Next Generation Poet Mark Waldron was up next, performing in his inimitable humorous style and all from memory. Waldron rattled through his poems with little introduction to many – “I find people’s misinterpretations often more interesting” – but displays a special gift for turning his strange and surreal subjects into thought-provoking and affecting poetry. Whether reading from poems in the voices of characters from the Magic Roundabout or positing that ‘an iron is like a dog’ in a series of fantastically unlikely analogies, Waldron is a truly unique voice working in British poetry today.

Making his second appearance on the Next Generation Poets 2014 tour as a representative of the 1994 New Generation, Ian Duhig gave another entertaining performance of his back catalogue. Reading several poems about the north of England and the “unmakin g” of the working classes, name-checking literary greats John Clare and Franz Kafka, and professing his love for the Goths hanging out ‘as if they had just crawled out of Ringu’s well’, Duhig wears his varied poetic interests on his sleeve. He also treated the audience to a reading of his 2000 National Poetry Competition winning poem, ‘The Lammas Hireling’: ‘Bless me Father for I have sinned./ It has been an hour since my last confession.’

PBS Director, Chris Holifield

Last up was Next Generation Poet 2014 Rebecca Goss with a startling reading from her collection, Her Birth, about the death of her sixteen-month old daughter, Ella. In a series of candid and hugely affecting poems, Goss stunned the audience with pieces about time spent in hospitals – ‘Hunger sends us seeking its cheap white thickness,/ forces us to leave her, two days old, incubated’ (‘Toast’) – the moments during her short life and after her death. Performing a range of new poems rewriting historical figures showed the poet’s continued inspiration, but finishing with ‘Lost’, about the inadequacy of euphemisms, Goss proved why Her Birth was so lauded by the Next Generation Poets 2014 judges:

I heard myself interrupting coos
to say, You know I lost my first child, don’t you?…

As if one day, I could run from my house, screaming ‘Found!’
Lift her for the whole road to see, shouting ‘Here she is! Here she is! She is here!’

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