Don Paterson (photo credit Al Buntin)
First on the podium was John Stammers, whose literary reputation as a 'dandy and a metaphysical' makes him unique among contemporary poetic voices. But he pulled few punches with poems from his new, soul-scouring collection Interior Night. Images of love among musical instruments in 'Ondine' gave way to disturbing and yet darkly humorous narratives about drug addiction and an ode to a poster of the singer, Alison Goldfrapp, seen from a London Underground platform. Strong, satirical stuff.
Sinead Morrissey’s gentle delivery counterpointed the powerful content of her poems, taken from her collection Through the Square Window. Her work ranged through a found poem based on the contents page of a script of the York Mystery Plays to childhood memories of eating jugged hare, and the joys and fears of being a mother. Two of the most provocative images came from the title poem: one is a dream of the dead arriving to wash the windows of a mother’s house. The other comes from an experience of temporary paralysis on waking: ‘flat on my back with a cork/ in my mouth, bottle-stoppered, in fact,/like a herbalist’s cure for dropsy.’ Morrissey is adept at exploring the mysteries at the heart of everyday experiences.
For the rest of the festival poetry programme, including some StAnza poets, click here