Jorge Luis Borges said that “Truly fine poetry must be read aloud . . . Poetry always remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art. It remembers that it was first song.”
Saturday, October 12 at 6:00pm, come out to the Durham Town Hall for a night of poetry reading that is part of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry Twentieth Anniversary Tour. Inaugurated in 1993 by the Poetry Book Society in honour of its founding poet, the T.S. Eliot Prize awards £15,000 to “the best collection of new verse in English first published in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland,” as well as £1,000 to the authors of ten shortlisted works. Previous winners include Sharon Olds, John Burnside and Philip Gross. Gross is one of three world renowned poets reading in Durham this Saturday alongside a well-known local poet.
Gross’s rich and poignant words are not to be missed. He is at once poet and storyteller, a master of pace and language who journeys with his audience into a land of discoveries of both world and self. His 2009 award winning collection The Water Table combines grace of language with a gentle urging, pushing readers to reconsider their view of the world around them.
Accompanying Gross are previously short-listed poets Sinead Morrissey and Deryn Rees-Jones. Morrissey’s poetry artfully draws on the aching joys and sorrows of the human condition, often juxtaposing life with death in a manner that is at once reassuring and frightening. In no poem is this more clear than in “A Matter of Life and Death” when Morrissey conjures dual images of a woman in labour and the carnage of war, depicting life and death as only a series of “checks and balances.” Her readings are sure to give rise to questions regarding the meaning of existence and purpose.
The gentle and lyrical quality of Rees-Jones’s poetry contrasts nicely to that of the event’s other poets; however, it is in this soft fluidity that is found the power of her messages. She speaks passionately of love and loss, invoking aspects of nature to serve as symbols of human emotion, such as the wren in “Burying the Wren,” the title work of her 2012 collection which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Saturday’s celebration of poetry promises to be an event that is stimulating, enjoyable and memorable. Tickets are available from the Gala Theatre by telephone at 03000 266 600 or online at the Gala website (£8 adults and £6 concessions).
And for those who are interested in the 2013 recipient of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the winner will be announced in mid-January of the new year.