Carol Ann Duffy and Friends – Jackie Kay

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February 10, 2013 by The Ascending Staircase

This is some work I’ve done via MMU’s Student Press Office (which is why it is mega pro-MMU). I’ve been to two CADAF events for them, of which this is the first. They’re held in the Royal Exchange Theatre a few times throughout the season with a different guest poet each time. Typically, they are made up of two halves; the first shows off the poetical talents of MMU’s Postgraduates and Alumni whilst the second half consists of readings by Carol Ann and her guest. There is also the excellent musical talents of students from the RNCM to fill in the gaps. These nights are brilliant fun, I’d definitely recommend them if you like your poetry! It’s such an intimate, cosy atmosphere and the tickets are great value. I have some recordings too which I shall post when I figure out how, so keep an eye out for them.

MMU creative writing students did The Writing School proud when they performed their poetry alongside Carol Ann Duffy in the Royal Exchange theatre.

Carly Hind, Charmain Leung, Kim Moore and David Tait, all current or former MA Creative Writing students at MMU, read their own poetry for a 100-strong audience at the Carol Ann Duffy and Friends event, guest starring Jackie Kay. Of the event, they said it was, ‘wonderful for us as students because we get the opportunity to read with the great and good, and we get the opportunity to share our work.’

The night consisted of two halves; the first was all about the students showcasing their extremely varied talents; Carly’s work was dark and a little cheeky and, with themes such as Shakespeare’s dark lady, ‘Immortal Jellyfish’ and blindness, she captured the audience’s attention well. Next was Charmain, whose work is beautifully descriptive. She focuses much more on people, emotions, experience, with excellent and appealing results. Kim, who read last, has won an Eric Gregory award. Her poetry took on a more comical approach and the group sitting next to me were positively doubled over with laughter at her wit and bluntness.


David Tait, also an MMU graduate, is the Royal Exchange’s house poet and read a couple of his own poems at the beginning of the night’s second half, which were received with both laughter and quiet contemplation. Next were the stars of the night. Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay were powerfully engaging, soaking up the atmosphere and performing to the mood of the audience. We heard all about Carol Ann’s conflict with the GCSE exam board, her grumbles about the post office and her love of Liverpool. Jackie Kay spoke about her family and her friends, which are obviously exceedingly important to her. She shared fond memories and put certain things to rest, all whilst letting her personality shine through.

The MMU Writing School is represented in all its glory by both Carol Ann and these students, and we can see how well the school caters for upcoming writers. David Tait said that fellow students on his MA course ‘improved their distinctive personal voice rather than adapted it to a certain style, and I think that’s a testament to the tutors that teach on [the course],’ which has most definitely been proven tonight.

Overall, the night was a success, and everybody left with a smile on their face. I personally cannot wait for the next night of poetry and music, which will be early in January.


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