Each year Durham Book Festival works in partnership with Durham University to invite an acclaimed poet to become the Festival Laureate. In 2017, we welcomed Andrew McMillan to the role. Here, Andrew reads his specially commissioned poem. Andrew McMillan’s debut collection physical was the first ever poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book Award. The collection also won the Fenton Aldeburgh Award and a Northern Writers’ Award.
“This is a poem which came out of a different commission, from Durham University and New Writing North, in which I had to consider something to do with the landscape of the North-East; I started thinking about the work we’d been doing in Horden particularly. I wrote the poem ‘Coalfield Dementia’, which blends my own words with those of Barry McSweeney, the great North East poet, and looks at how language can fall apart and ultimately fail to comprehend what faces it. Here’s the result!”