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Review: Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke at William Aston Hall

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Oct 12th, 2012.

Around 100 people saw Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke read a selection of their poetry on Thursday 11th October. The event, at Glyndwr University’s William Aston Hall, was well-received by attendees who enjoyed hearing the two share some stories as well as reading from their work.

Each took to the stage twice and gave us roughly half a dozen poems on both occasions. Carol Ann Duffy started with the touching Originally, which tells of her childhood fear of losing her identity when she moved from Scotland to England before showing her versatility later in the evening with poetry capturing a variety of emotions.

Particularly well received were The Counties, which she explained beforehand told of her dismay at learning two years ago that the Royal Mail were set to scrap counties from addresses, and A Child’s Sleep, which she introduced as her own favourite. She also lightened the mood with some funny poems, the best of which was Litany, with its stark imagery of a youngster swearing to deliberately show up her mother in front of her friends.

Speaking of issues between mothers and daughters, Gillian Clarke admitted to the audience that she’d learnt Welsh as a teenager to annoy her mother, who she described as a ‘snob’. Despite this, her poetry seems somewhat gentler than Duffy’s. After initially reading us her poem Nant Mill, about her mother’s childhood home in Coedpoeth, which unsurprisingly went down very well with the Wrexham audience, she shared some of her winter-themed work. Undoubtedly the most moving, though, was a poem which Clarke has just written, and which she read in public for the first time, paying tribute to April Jones.

Earlier in the day, the two poets had given a performance for nearly 800 schoolchildren and sixth-formers. Wrexham.com caught up with some of the attendees at this event from Ysgol Rhiwabon, who were extremely impressed.

Daisy told us “It made me appreciate the poems more” while Sian said “I enjoyed learning the stories behind the poems,” Shannon liked “the way they read their poems with humour and emotions” and Danni said “I thought it was interesting when the poets explained what they were thinking when writing the poems.”

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