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Poet laureates go to the movies

By Terry Blain

Poets in the City was a tale of two laureates, UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Sinead Morrissey, her Belfast counterpart, combining in a programme marking the conclusion of Morrissey's inaugural one-year term of office.

On hand also was David Park, author of The Poets' Wives, Belfast's choice for the 2014 One City One Book initiative.

He introduced the evening, in the unusual surroundings of Screen 3 at the Movie House Cinema, Yorkgate, drolly revealing how Morrissey encouraged him to excise a poem he had ill-advisedly written for inclusion in his latest novel.

Morrissey for her part conceded that she had not in fact produced a single poem during her tenure, being busy with related laureate activities.

She has written plenty of others, though, and read four of them, prefaced by the brief film excerpts which inspired them.

Carol Ann Duffy followed, her burring, low-key mode of recitation a striking contrast with Morrissey's china-delicate, higher-pitched delivery.

Duffy's wide range of reference was reflected in poems about her mother's death in a hospice, the Hillsborough stadium disaster, and characters from classical mythology.

“Poetry at the movies, the most extraordinary poetry reading I've ever taken part in,” she commented, referring to the Yorkgate location.

Evidently she liked it.

Supplementing the poetry, Edinburgh musician John Sampson contributed a number of interludes on valveless trumpet, crumhorn, recorder, goat's horn and penny whistle, a diverting if slightly random addition to the evening's entertainment.

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