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by 2 poets

Poetry Reading
Rory Waterman & Declan Ryan
April 20th, 2.30pm


We are thrilled to know that such well regarded poets will be at Red Lion Books on the afternoon of April 20th.  Regrettably our event space is unsuitable for wheelchair users
Rory Waterman‘s fourth collection, Come Here to This Gate, is published by Carcanet in April 2024. His first collection was a PBS Recommendation and was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Award, and in 2019 he was shortlisted for the Ledbury Forte Prize. He lives in Nottingham, and teaches at NTU. He also co-runs the pamphlet publisher New Walk Editions, and publishes a lot of literary journalism.

Come Here to this Gate, Rory Waterman’s fourth collection, is his most candid and unexpected, personal, brash, hilarious, and wide-ranging. The book is in three parts, the first a sequence about the last year of the life of his father, the poet Andrew Waterman, against a backdrop of recrimination, love and alcoholic dementia: ‘your silences were trains departing’. The second consists of poems that open various gates, or are forcibly restrained behind them, from the literal North and South Korean border to the borders between friends, and those imposed by photographs, memories, and paths taken and not taken. The third opens on the poet’s rural home county of Lincolnshire. He rewrites several folk tales into galloping, sometimes rambunctious ballads for the 2020s: what happens when imps, ghosts, and a boggart who looks like a ‘doll left behind at Chernobyl’ must reckon with the modern world and the people who lumber through it.

‘I have long admired Rory Waterman’s honest, often very sensitive, pitch-perfect poetry. He has the ability to capture, without appearing too knowing, that which is at the edge of the mind. The diverse poems in Come Here to This Gate are enticingly open to both life’s realities and its unrealities. They include acute and moving poems on his father’s dying and on parental separation and its after-effects. This is surely his most deeply resonant and versatile book.’ MONIZA ALVI

Declan Ryan is a poet and critic in London. His first collection, Crisis Actor, was published by Faber & Faber in 2023. His reviews and essays have appeared in a wide range of journals.
Declan Ryan’s Crisis Actor chronicles various kinds of failures and farewells. It is peopled by faded heroes and deferential devotees, a hanged donkey and a bloated rat, solitary bachelors and disillusioned youths—these are the watchers, not the players. The poems are awash in rueful self-accusation and laconic skepticism. There are touching elegies, reportage, and bruised, wary replayings. A blistering sequence about boxers and their fates weaves through the collection. The overwhelming sense is of life going on elsewhere, the halcyon days and brightness of years long past. This is the aftermath of being one who—in Matthew Arnold’s words—”has reached his utmost limits and finds . . . himself far less than he had imagined himself.” But there are still flashes of camaraderie, of stars aligning: lunchtimes in sunlit garden squares, languorous afternoons in pubs cheering for hard-won triumphs. These precious, precarious moments point to how we might reclaim potential, discover human connection in times of defeat or despair, and reach toward grace and redemption.
‘In these riveting and astonishingly sure-footed scenes from the lives of an eclectic cast of doomed boxers, embattled writers, lonely fantasists and inveterate losers of all stripes, Declan Ryan reveals himself as a master of both the telling detail and of narrative suspense. Each exquisitely orchestrated vignette delivers a punch worthy of the heroes of the ring here commemorated. Wry, nimble, heart-wrenching, Ryan’s poems float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.’ MARK FORD
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