Literary Programme 2018

Sinéad Morrissey, Ruth Padel and Jacob Polley

Sinéad Morrissey, Ruth Padel and Jacob Polley

Sinéad Morrissey
Ruth Padel
Jacob Polley

Maritime Hotel

Tue 17 July 2018



Join us for an evening with three award-winning poets whose work is strongly influenced by the natural world.

Set against a backdrop of ecological and economic instability, Sinéad Morrissey’s sixth collection, On Balance, revisits some of the great feats of human engineering to reveal the states of balance and inbalance that have shaped our history. The poems also address gender inequality and our inharmonious relationship with the natural world. A poem on Lilian Bland – the first woman to design, build and fly her own aeroplane – celebrates the audacity and ingenuity of a great Irish heroine. Elsewhere, explorers in Greenland set foot on a fjord system accessible to Europeans for the first time in millennia as a result of global warming.

Winner of the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Collection

‘The outstanding poet of her generation.’ The Independent

‘A celebration of resourcefulness, from motherhood to the first woman to build an aeroplane, its language is as poised as the acrobats it catches.’ Jeremy Noel-Tod, Sunday Times Books of the Year 2017

Sinéad Morrissey was born in 1972 and grew up in Belfast. She read English and German at Trinity College Dublin from which she took her PhD in 2003. Her five previous collections are There Was a Fire in Vancouver (1996), Between Here and There (2002), The State of the Prisons (2005), Through the Square Window (2009) and the T.S. Eliot Prize-winning Parallax (2013) all of which are published by Carcanet Press. She has lived in Germany, Japan and New Zealand and lectured in creative writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen’s University Belfast. She now lives in Northumberland where she is head of the Creative Writing programme at Newcastle University. She is Belfast’s inaugural Poet Laureate. On Balance is published by Carcanet Press.

Ruth Padel’s searching and tender-hearted new collection Emerald is an elegy for her mother, at her passing at the age of 97. With resonating honesty, Ruth soulfully examines the assemblage of her grief – the memories, belongings, photographs or conversations that bring a lost person to life – as well as the patterns they leave beneath on the bedrock of the heart. With an imagination that turns to, and finds solace in, both the natural world and in travel, Emerald is a tender-hearted chronicle of loss, written by a daughter for her mother, but also a reminder of renewal amid ruins: of rediscovering all that is precious in what is left behind.

‘A poet of great eloquence and delicate skill, an exquisite image-maker who can work wonders with the great tradition of line and stanza. Her voice has an astonishing resonance.’ Colm Tóibín

Ruth Padel is an award-winning poet, Professor of Poetry at King’s College London. Her ten collections include Darwin – A Life in Poems, a verse biography of her great-great-grandfather Charles Darwin; The Mara Crossing on human and animal migration; Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth on the Middle East; and Tidings, a narrative poem on homelessness and Christmas. She is deeply involved in nature conservation: her travel book on the plight of the tiger, Tigers in Red Weather, was shortlisted for the US Kiriwama Prize, she received a British Council Darwin Now award for her wildlife novel Where the Serpent Lives, and is the only writer to be Fellow of the Zoological Society of London as well as the Royal Society of Literature. She was Chair of Judges for the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize, Judge for the 2016 International Man Booker Prize. Her new collection Emerald will be published by Chatto & Windus in July 2018.

Jackself, the fourth collection from Jacob Polley, describes a rural upbringing in Cumbria in the language of English folklore. The story of Jackself is threaded with nursery rhymes, riddles and cautionary tales, and told through the many ‘Jacks’ of English legend, phrase and fable: Everyman Jacks and no one Jacks, Jack Frost and Jack-O’Lantern, Cheapjacks and Jackdaws. At once playful and terrifying, songlike and narratively compelling, Jackself is an unforgettable and disturbing tale of an innocence and childhood lost in the darker corners of Reiver country. It also confirms Jacob Polley as one of the most singular imaginations at work in poetry today.

Winner of the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry

‘A firework of a book; inventive, exciting and outstanding in its imaginative range and depth of feeling.’ T.S. Eliot Prize judges

Jacob Polley was born and grew up in Cumbria. His fourth book of poems, Jackself, won the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry. A poet of the uncanny and the startlingly lyrical, Jacob’s work explores his rural upbringing, the forces of tradition and history, and the power of speech as it approaches song. He is also a novelist, publishing Talk of the Town, which was set in and around Carlisle, in 2009 and winning the 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. He teaches at Newcastle University and lives with his family on the North East coast of England. Jackself is published by Picador.

Sinéad’s photo is by Florian Braakman, Ruth’s photo is by Mary Tziraki and Jacob’s photo is by Mai Lin Li