Thursday 6th October is National Poetry Day and NCLA will be joining the UK-wide celebrations of the joy of poetry with a reading from Christy Ducker. Christy’s reading opens our series of free, lunchtime readings on the first Thursday of every month. The poem below is ‘Deer’ from Christy's PBS Pamphlet Choice ‘Armour’


Too often roadkill or sprung space,
our deer survive and come back north
pressing themselves to the house for warmth.
They’re close enough to show their lice
teeming through fur that looks combed.
They’ll bolden soon and scruff our fence
with moult, a herd of hoist-bellies
up for scraps they lick from my palms
on the day you venture out again,
all bristle and stink, warming to spring 
with skin that’s slackened on grief.
Gods from off the mountain, you’ll say
in your grandiose way and stoop
while I kiss you in firm belief.

‘Unsettling and edgy, these poems have the strangeness of myth and the zany logic of nursery rhymes, but for adult ears. A real zest for language and startling imagery.’
Simon Armitage

NCLA will also be tweeting and posting extracts from poems and links to poetry-related tips and trivia during National Poetry Day: ‘like’ our Facebook Page and follow @NCLA_Tweets to join in our conversation.


NCLA’s year-long festival of events and readings celebrates literature of all shapes and sizes, but we’ve had a particular focus on poetry recently with our celebration of the centenary of Elizabeth Bishop’s birth. We were delighted to see so many familiar faces in attendance last Thursday when Paul Muldoon returned to NCLA to deliver The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Lecture. Bishop’s reputation now eclipses many of her contemporaries and is the poet most often cited by poets in the UK as a major influence.

To commemorate the 100 years since her birth, Paul Muldoon’s lecture explored the incendiary letters between Bishop and Robert Lowell. The correspondence the two poets shared gave insight into their relationship with each other’s work. Often serious, witty and competitive, the letters provided the story behind the dedication to Lowell in Bishop’s ‘The Armadillo’ and Lowell’s dedication to Bishop in ‘Skunk Hour’, and further demonstrated that fastidious attention towards her work for which Elizabeth Bishop is famous.

Paul Muldoon’s lecture was preceded by a preview of Prof. Linda Anderson’s enlightening short film on the life and work of Elizabeth Bishop, following her recent trip to Great Village, Nova Scotia, where Bishop had lived. The film featured readings and discussions of Bishop’s work by Anne Stevenson, Sean O’Brien and Linda France, and explored the significance of her childhood in Canada for her writing.


Other forthcoming poetry delights with NCLA include ‘Through the Garden Gate’ with Linda France on Wednesday 19th October. ‘What Are They Whispering?’ a show made from poems featuring Imtiaz Dharker, Joe Dunthorne and John Stammers, is on Tuesday 1st November. Then on Saturday 5th November, NCLA will be hosting a special live edition of BBC Radio 3’s ‘The Verb’ at the Sage Gateshead with W.N. Herbert, Jackie Kay and Sean O’Brien. Please visit the ‘Events’ section of our website for further details.

published on: 3rd October 2011

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