The best event I attended at the festival was a talk by Tim Dee on ‘The Poetry of Birds’. He talked of a lifelong passion for noticing, watching and identifying birds, and read several poems from the book of the same name that he and Simon Armitage have edited. Many of the poems in the book were new to me – I was amazed to find what a rich source of work bird life has been for poets over several centuries. Tim Dee confessed to not being particularly fond of certain species – basically birds that can’t fly, such as ostriches; and ducks don’t stir him the way better flyers can do. But he allowed that the non-airborne species were good to eat…. Both that book and his bird-watching autobiography, The Running Sky, are terrific, and highly recommended by me. He writes better prose than many poets write poetry.
The prize-winning children were extraordinary: serious poems that made the older poets whistle and exchange glances of admiration. Some serious competition for the older generation within the next few years. I read ‘The Academy of New Words’, which won second prize – I will put it up on the website when I get enough time to work out how to edit this whole business properly.