“Laird gives everything of himself in a poetry as expansive and thought-provoking as his considered response to an infinitely complicated universe needs to be.” – Guardian
“Like Paul Muldoon, Zaffar Kunial reminds the reader that the alphabet we use can’t be taken for granted; each word is a warren of hiding places, forgotten meanings and buried puns” – Telegraph
In the face of collapsing political and social systems, Nick Laird’s poetry collection Up Late confronts age-old anxieties, questions of solitude, friendship, and, at the heart of the book, a profound meditation on his father’s passing. This elegy was awarded the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem this year, the most prestigious garland of its kind in the UK.
Kunial’s particular skill as a lyricist is in taking a known quantity – a sound, a place, a name of a flower – and reconstituting them in verse so that we see them entirely anew. In his T.S. Eliot Prize shortlisted England’s Green, he applies this thinking to the country itself, in a series of vignettes that share a centre of gravity, from the touch of a hand to the scratch a limpet makes to mark its home.
This is an opportunity to watch two lyric virtuosos at work, casting a critical and heartening eye over the vagaries of the contemporary world.
Laird and Kunial will be in discussion with poet Stephen Sexton.
Nick Laird was born in Cookstown in 1975. A poet, novelist, screenwriter and former lawyer, his awards include the Betty Trask Prize, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.
Zaffar Kunial was born in Birmingham and lives in Yorkshire. His first pamphlet was part of the Faber New Poets series, and his two full collections, Us and England’s Green, were both shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Presented in partnership with Poetry Ireland.