Series 8 of Carol Ann Duffy and Friends

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 Carol Ann Duffy

21st November 2013, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

According to our host, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, these evenings are held to introduce students from MMU’s writing school to ‘the evil world of poetry, red wine and Jazz’.

Liz Venn

Carol Ann kicked off the event in style by reading two of her own, unpublished, poems. The first, `Pathway’, was a sombre, touching poem about her father who died a couple of years ago. The second, `The Crown’, she read in honour of the very first poetry reading at Buckingham Palace, which was held the week previously, during which she, along with other MMU staff, had been present.

The first student to be introduced by House Poet, Liz Venn, was Paul McGhee, who is currently in his 2nd year of the Creative Writing Masters Degree, and a founder of Tongue In Cheek, an ‘open mic space for poetry, music, words and performance’ often found in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. McGhee introduced his first poem, `Carrier Pigeons’, an attempt to pass on fond memories of his Grandmother to his young niece, who may not remember her as well as he does. The poem evokes a homely Christmas scene, which undoubtedly resonated with many of the listeners. He finished with `The Ground On Which We Walked Was A Grave’, which was composed as part of the ‘Notes Into Letters’ project in conjunction with The Royal Philharmonic Society.

Paul McGhee

Other MA students reading at the event included Charmain Leung, whose work can be found in Intern magazine and The Dark Mountain Anthology; and Linda Sunderland, who read her poems `Mr Bronte’s Fear Of Fire’, which was stacked with graphic, Gothic imagery, and `All Shook Up’, a tale of 16-year-old lust, written, she explained, for the benefit of her granddaughter, ‘to show her that kind of thing went on’.

Following some fantastic readings from Liz Venn herself, it was the turn of the evening’s special guest Adam Horovitz, whom Carol Ann Duffy introduced by saying,

“As you are about to hear, Adam’s poetry is what you might think of as a ‘suffered’ poetry. It is earned from experience. He writes of bereavement, of love. He places himself very deeply in a very familiar English landscape. Over the years he has become a great friend to many poets, as well as myself, so you are in for a real treat”.


Horovitz began with `A House Built From Cloth’, which, as promised was drenched in unmistakable English imagery – bringing to mind that curious space where the industrial and the rural converge. Other highlights included `Cheese Kisses’ and `Clearances’, which are both taken from Hororvitz’s book Turning. He explained,

“This book is a kind of working around loss and love. My mother died thirty years ago, when I was twelve, and she was a poet too. So, many of the poems in this book are answers to her – to letters she wrote me and to poems she wrote.”

Once again ‘Carol Ann Duffy and Friends’ was a resounding success, the next event will be held on February 10th 2014, for more information please visit

Neil Harrison studies Social History at MMU, he is an aspiring writer, an awful guitar player and a lazy socialist. Follow him on Twitter @looseriver

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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