Poet in Residence

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation. You are welcome to explore our archive of past residencies and read some of the lively and varied discussions you'll find there.

Daljit Nagra

Daljit Nagra (b. 1966) was the first poet to win the Forward Prize for both his first collection of poetry, in 2007, and for its title poem, 'Look, We Have Coming to Dover!', three years earlier. An earlier pamphlet, Oh My Rub! was a...

Comic Verse

Daljit Nagra - 4 April 2011

I'm troubled, as you can tell by my introduction, about comic verse. Comic verse gets bad press because rigid notions of comedy foreground throwaway poems.

Surely the best comedy is when the poem surprises us into laughter rather than setting up the expectation of laughter. The former leads to a complex self-evaluation whilst the latter leads to our judgement about whether the poet delivered the gag.

What sorts of poems have you read that made you laugh unexpectedly because they communicated a deep truth in yourself about something that may actually be serious?

Shocking news of cut backs to the poetry world

Daljit Nagra - 31 March 2011

The PBS was set up by TS Eliot and colleagues in 1953. It publishes a quarterly booklet about the latest poetry books published and its judges recommend books.

In addition the PBS has an excellent online bookshop where books can be bought at a reduced price.

The PBS is best known for the TS Eliot prize, which is now the biggest poetry prize and perhaps the best advert for contemporary poetry because it makes the popular news, and the shortlist is promoted to schools around the country in an innovative way.

Translating Poetry to become a better Poet

Daljit Nagra - 22 March 2011

I worked with the Dutch poet Jan-Willem Anker a few years ago and I am working with him again. We are translating each other's work. He sends me literal prose versions of his poems and then I try and shape them into English. I look at his Dutch versions for the general and local shape of the poem to help with me the layout.

The value of residential poetry courses

Daljit Nagra - 17 March 2011

The other thing I really enjoyed about the course was having immediate access to leading poets and to a cohort of new writers who were at a fairly similar stage of development as me.

I kept in touch with several of the poets I met on these courses and we workshopped poems and supported each other with advise about poets/poems/magazines/readings etc.

The residential courses were the beginnings of a beautifully interactive poetry affair with a lovely set of poets.

Favourite Individual Collections

Daljit Nagra - 23 February 2011

Gaining some control over an individual collection helps build my confidence about reading poetry. I enjoy the idea of having absorbed a whole text to some degree. Good poets will usually work from a certain place in the dictionary and have particular textures and themes that may tightly or loosely bind the collection.

Influence

Daljit Nagra - 5 February 2011

There shouldn't be an anxiety about being influenced as we do not exist in a vacuum and we are influenced by many writers before us, whether we know it or not. We may think our poems are highly original but they are probably fitting into a tradition, a line of writers who have written in the style we employ but this should not be depressing should it? Hopefully this is a liberating feeling to know that there is a tradition of writers who think and feel a bit like us and who we can be influenced by so our poems become better if we learn from them.

Season of Poetry Prizes

Daljit Nagra - 12 January 2011

Some negatives
Do the same poets always win the big prizes? Should there be a broader inclusion of poetry writing styles in the shortlists?
Should poets be put in competition with each other?
Do prizes value a certain style which is promoted to the public and does this style reaffirm the usual preconceptions about contemporary poetry?

Glossary term

Oxymoron

A figure of speech in which two terms appear to contradict each other.