Talk by Robin Robertson and Alice Oswald. For Alice Oswald, a poet committed to the live performance of her work, the role of poetry is to go ‘lower than rhetoric, lower than conversation, lower than logic, right down to the very faint honest voice at the bottom of the skull’. Noted for her visionary precision and love of nature, she won the T.S. Eliot Prize for 'Dart' (2002), her poem about the Devon river and the people who live and work on it. But in her most recent work, 'Memorial', she leaves England for the killing fields of Troy, in a reworking of the 'Iliad' described by Andrew Motion as ‘an elegy of quite extraordinary power’. The Classics, and especially Ovid’s 'Metamorphoses', have also been a lodestone for Robin Robertson. The first person to win the Forward Poetry Prize in all three categories - 'A Painted Field' (1997) was Best First Collection, 'Swithering' (2006) Best Collection, and ‘At Roane Head’ (2010) Best Single Poem - Robertson has been praised by John Banville for his ‘genius for exact and gorgeous imagery, his dazzling metaphorical gift’. In the newly published 'Hill of Doors', he combines loose retellings of stories of the shape-shifter Dionysus with poems about his childhood on the north-east coast of Scotland.
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