From psychogeographic wanderings around Bill Herbert’s Dundee, to the forgotten crew of hopeful Jamaicans sailing to Britain alongside Hannah Lowe’s father, to the man seeking a moment’s peace beneath a tree in Alan Gillis’s hectic world, the Next Generation Poets Tour, which I was kindly asked to read on, brought it all to Newcastle on Tuesday evening.
Here, I could easily become solipsistic about the whole event, so I’m just going to keep it brief and mainly express my debt of thanks to the Poetry Book Society for inviting me to take part. If you don’t know anything about the Next Generation Poets, I think chair of judges, Ian McMillan, sums it up best when he says “We all wanted [...] a list that reflected the huge diversity of poetry being written and read at the moment and a list that made people who encountered the poets in it to want to read more.”
For me, dipping my toes into the work of those 20 poets, particularly those – like, admittedly, Alan Gillis – whose work I’d never read before, touring events like this are of pivotal importance. As a writer, though, they also make you want to write better poems; to hopefully elicit more of those quiet ‘wow’ moments that I got listening to both Bill, Hannah and Alan, and who poets such as Rebecca Goss and Jen Hadfield, to name two who I’ve previously read quite a bit by, surely also elicit.
If you’re in – or within commutable distance of – London on the 15th March, make sure you get to the Queen Elizabeth Hall, where all 20 poets will be reading. I’ve got little doubt that you will stop at just 20.