Richard Wilcocks writes:
Katrina Naomi, the first Writer in Residence at the Parsonage, read first on Saturday evening (18 September), mainly from The Girl with the Cactus Handshake. She was powerful, in spite of being a touch nervous I think, performing just before the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. I was most impressed by Tunnel of Love, probably because I have my own strong childhood memories of her home town of Margate with its fascinating shell grotto and its now abandoned amusement centre for holidaying East Enders, Dreamland. Her teenage memories of the place and its hypnotic tawdriness were conveyed in a confessional and amusing style, making her an excellent lead-in for the dryly humorous Duffy.
We laughed with her: she was as confident as a stand-up, beginning with Mrs Midas and Mrs Tiresias, explaining how she had been troubled by the ancient stories when she had first read them at an early age and how productive it still was to mine Ovid's Metamorphoses, an endlessly glittering seam. At one point she sneezed, and muttered something about just missing a Bible. She can't read often from behind a lectern in a Baptist church, surely. My hope was that she would read Education for Leisure, which in 2008 was removed from a GCSE English Literature Anthology presumably because some numbskulls thought it might encourage knife crime, but she didn't. I would have preferred that to her bee poems. Unlike so many actors, she can shrug off the personas (queens, babies, burglars, frustrated teenagers...) and speak from her own core, as she proved with her deeply moving poetry about her mother.
The bow at the end was by both performers, linked.