Carol Ann Duffy sings poetry in Lincoln

John Sampson and Carol Ann Duffy

The Collection museum hosted this weekend 12 hours of talks and workshops as part of Lincoln’s one-day Hay Festival.

The event concluded in spectacular style, with a performance from Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and instrumentalist John Sampson, who delivered an engaging hybrid of poetry and music.

Sampson delighted the audience with a playful demonstration of some unusual pipes and horns, and Duffy read from celebrated collections The World’s Wife and Rapture, before sharing poems from unpublished collection The Bees.

Duffy has held the prestigious title of Poet Laureate for almost two years, but reveals that her day-to-day life has not changed too dramatically.

She said: “I think that the important thing about being a poet is you write poetry. I don’t think that poets should be on ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here’. I’ve managed to keep my relationship with my own work as normal as it used to be.

“I love being Poet Laureate; what’s wonderful is that it allows you to celebrate even more the thing that you love most of in the world, which is poetry. I think it is our national art.”

Being Laureate has allowed Duffy to bring together numerous other poets to cover events such as the Royal Wedding.

“I think there were 23 poets who each wrote a new poem that could be used at a civil partnership or a wedding. Things like that are lovely to be able to do; to bring poetry to the table, have it sit down and join in.”

Duffy has some exciting projects in the pipeline, and not least the publication of her latest compilation. September will see the launch of Anthologise!, a national competition that will encourage secondary school students to produce their own poetry. Duffy and Welsh Laureate Gillian Clarke will head the judging panel to decide which collection will win the prize.

“The winning book will be published by Picador so it will be in all the shops: an anthology done by children themselves for teenagers to read,” Duffy said.

“We’ve got a very exciting patron who you will find out about in September. I’m not allowed to say.”

Although Duffy was only in Lincoln for one night, she has been familiar with the city for many years:

“I really love the city and I’ve been coming here since I was 17. I just like mooching around the streets. It’s got lots of lovely old pubs. [The Collection] is a fantastic place. I love everything being under one roof and it’s a beautiful building.”

Lincoln will play a significant role in another upcoming project with artist Stephen Raw: “I’m going to write a poem for every English cathedral and he’s going to do an artwork of the poems. Lincoln is one of the ones we want to do first.”

Duffy’s latest collection, The Bees, will be published in Autumn 2011.

— Additional reporting from Chelsea Buckthorp