A Fantastic Evening with Carol Ann Duffy

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By Sophie Bannister
MMU Creative Writing students did The Manchester Writing School proud when they performed their poetry alongside Carol Ann Duffy at the Royal Exchange theatre on Tuesday 4th December 2012. Carly Hind, Charmain Leung, Kim Moore and David Tait, all current or former MA Creative Writing students at MMU, read their own poetry for a 100-strong audience at the Carol Ann Duffy and Friends event, guest starring Jackie Kay. The event, they said, was, ‘wonderful for us as students because we get the opportunity to read with the great and good, and we get the opportunity to share our work.’
The night consisted of two halves; the first was all about the students showcasing their extremely varied talents–Carly’s work was dark and a little cheeky with themes such as Shakespeare’s dark lady, immortal jellyfish and blindness, capturing the audience’s attention well. Next was Charmain, whose work is beautifully descriptive.
She focuses much more on people, emotions and experience, with excellent and appealing results. Kim, who read last, won the Eric Gregory award in 2011. Her poetry took on a more comical approach and the group sitting next to me were positively doubled over with laughter at her wit and bluntness.
David Tait, also an MMU graduate, is the Royal Exchange’s house poet and read a couple of his own poems at the beginning of the night’s second half, which were received with both laughter and quiet contemplation. Next up were the stars of the night. Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay were powerfully engaging, soaking up the atmosphere and performing to the mood of the audience. We heard all about Carol Ann’s conflict with the GCSE exam board, her grumbles about the post office and her love of Liverpool. Jackie Kay spoke about her family and her friends, who are obviously exceedingly important to her. She shared fond memories and put certain things to rest, all whilst letting her personality shine through.
The MMU Writing School is represented in all its glory by both Carol Ann and these students, and we can see how well the school caters for upcoming writers. David Tait said that fellow students on his MA course, ‘improved their distinctive personal voice rather than adapting it to a certain style,
and that it’s a testament to the tutors that teach [on the course],’ This was most definitely proved on the night.
The evening was thoroughly entertaining, and everybody left with a smile on their face. Monday 7th January 2013 will be eagerly awaited as the next date for a night of poetry and music at the Royal Exchange Theatre. To book, click here

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