Poetry at the Print Room



Poetry @ the Print Room is a series of intimate evenings in the company of contemporary poets.  

Jo Shapcott was born in London. Poems from her three award-winning collections, Electroplating the Baby (1988), Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) are gathered in a selected poems, Her Book (2000). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). Tender Taxes, her versions of Rilke, was published in 2001.

In 2010, Shapcott published Of Mutability with Faber and Faber, her first collection for 12 years. The 45 poems explore the nature of change, in the body, within the natural world and inside relationships. It was awarded Costa Book of the Year for 2010, beating contenders in Fiction, Non-Fiction and other categories. Sinclair Mackay in the Daily Telegraph wrote: “Of Mutability, is so especially rich and resonant that it deserves the widest possible readership, even among those who never usually think of reading poems…And there is a dazzling variety of tone and colour and subject throughout – Shapcott’s language dances lightly, and often with wit.” In 2011 she won The Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry for Of Mutability. 

 She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London. With Daljit Nagra she is Poetry Tutor at The Faber Academy. 

“Jo Shapcott is such a good poet, with a sensitive ear and a gutsy voice. Her collection Of Mutability is about transformation – and that includes decay, life in all its leaving as well as its celebrating. This is a book to shove in your pocket and take for a walk, reading one poem at a time, and listening to the voice in your head.” Jeanette Winterson, the Guardian.


Daljit Nagra‘s debut collection, Look We Have Coming to Dover!— a title alluding to W. H. Auden’s Look, Stranger!, D. H. Lawrence’s Look! We have come through! and by epigraph also to Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach — was published by Faber in February 2007 and went on to win the Forward Prize for Best First Collection,  The South Bank Decibel Award and was shortlisted for The Costa, the TS Eliot and The Guardian Prize. His poems relate to the experience of British-born Indians (especially Indian Sikhs).

Nagra’s first pamphlet Oh MY Rub! (Smith/Doorstop) was the Poetry Book Society’s first ever PBS Pamphlet Choice in 2003. His second collection, Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man Eating Tiger-Toy Machine!!! was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, as was his version of Ramayana in 2013. In 2014 he won the Royal Society of Authors Travelling Scholarship Award.

He is the Lead Poetry Tutor at The Faber Academy and has run workshops all over the world. He is a regular contributor to BBC radio and has written articles for The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The Times of India.

“Even the title is a pick-me-up: animated, garrulous, entertaining and breaking an unwritten rule (since when were three exclamation marks welcomed in poetry?) , Daljit Nagra’s 2007 debut, Look We Have Coming to Dover! (only one exclamation mark in those days), was received with joy and won the Forward prize for best first collection. (Anyone who hasn’t read it should prepare to be wooed and wowed.)” says Kate Kellaway, The Observer.


Declan Ryan  was born in Mayo, Ireland in 1983 and lives in north London. He has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway where he is currently teaching and working on a PhD on ‘perfect speech’ in the poems of Ian Hamilton. He co-edits the Days of Roses anthology series and is a poetry editor at Ambit. Faber published his pamphlet last year. 

The Faber Academy poets will be:

Paul Crichton, Kate Ghyll, Victoria Green, Mark Hubband, Katy Mack, Rebecca McKenzie,  Robert Palmer.

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For our next event on Tuesday 3 March, we are delighted to welcome SEAN BORODALE reading from HUMAN WORK – A POET’S COOKBOOK; ELAINE FEINSTEIN reading from her new collection, PORTRAITS; and MIMI KHALVATI reading from THE WEATHER WHEEL.

Sean Borodale is one of 2014’s Next Generation Poets, and he will be reading from his second collection, Human Work – A Poet’s Cookbook, a stunning collection about the rites and rituals of cooking by one of Britain’s best new poets which will be out with Jonathan Cape in February 2015.

Sean Borodale works as a poet and artist and lives in Somerset, and is currently Creative Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was selected as a Granta New Poet in 2012, and his debut collection Bee Journal was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, the T S Eliot Prize and the Costa Poetry Award in 2013. Mighty Beast, his documentary poem for Radio 3 won the Radio Academy Gold Award in 2014 for Best Feature or Documentary. His topographical poem Notes for an Atlas was recommended by Robert Macfarlane in the Guardian Summer Books 2005. It was performed in 2007 at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, directed by Mark Rylance, as part of the first London Festival of Literature.

‘Sean Borodale is without doubt the most exciting new poet I have read since Alice Oswald. His Bee Journal raises the bar for us all and announces a thrilling new voice in British poetry.’ – Carol Ann Duffy


Now in her 80s, Elaine Feinstein is a poet, novelist, and biographer, and she will read from her intimate new collection, Portraits, which will be published by Carcenet in February 2015, in which describes writers she has known, including the Russian poet Bella Akhmadulna, and those she has loved only through their work, such as Sylvia Plath.

Elaine Feinstein grew up in Leicester and read English at Newnham College, Cambridge. She has published over thirty books, including fiction and biography, and written for radio and television. She has received  many prizes, including a Cholmondeley Award for Poetry, Society of Authors’, Wingate and Arts Council Awards, the Daisy Miller Prize for her experimental novel The Circle, (long-listed for the ‘lost’ Man Booker prize in 2010) and an Honorary D.Litt from the University of Leicester. She has travelled across the world to read her poems, and her books have been translated into most European languages, and into Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Her versions of the poems of Marina Tsvetaeva, a New York Times Book of the Year, have remained in print since 1971. She was given a major grant from the Arts Council to write her most recent novel, The Russian Jerusalem, a phantasmagoric mix of prose and poetry (Carcanet, 2008). She has served on the Council of the Royal Society of Literature, of which she is a Fellow, as a judge for most of the current literary prizes, and  as Chair of the Judges for the T.S.Eliot Award.

‘She is an extremely fine poet. She has a sinewy, tenacious way of penetrating and exploring the core of her subject that seems to me unique.’ – Ted Hughes 


Mimi Khalvati was born in Tehran, Iran. She grew up and has lived most of her life in England. She trained at Drama Centre London and has worked as an actor and director in the UK and Iran.

All of the poems in her latest collection, The Weather Wheel, are written in 16 line couplets, reminiscent of both the sonnet and the ghazal, a twinning of East and West, as Mimi says. Elegies for her mother, who died whilst she was writing the book, anchor the sections. The central image is of a wheel spinning and Mimi Khalvati takes the day’s weather, the seasons and the passage of night and day as the ground on which she draws her emblems of human life and love.

She has published eight collections of poetry with Carcanet Press, including The Weather Wheel, The Meanest Flower, a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, a Financial Times Book of the Year, and shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and, most recently, Child: New and Selected Poems 1991-2011, a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. Her work has been translated into nine languages and she received a Cholmondeley Award in 2006. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.



Sean O’Brien is a master craftsman and his latest collection THE BEAUTIFUL LIBRARIANS confirms this. He is a poet of great range and skill whose sense of social justice runs throughout all his work, infused with a deep knowledge political and literary history. With unshowy erudition he brings to the craft, a polish that sets him apart from most poets writing in Britain today. Sean will read from THE BEAUTIFUL LIBRARIANS, published by Picador and is just out, it is a Poetry Book Society Choice, and is already selected for the TS Eliot prize in 2015.  

He is a poet, novelist, playwright, critic, broadcaster, anthologist and editor. He grew up in Hull and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. 

His first six individual poetry collections were given awards, most recently The Drowned Book (2007), which was the first book to win both the Forward and T S Eliot Prizes. His previous collection NOVEMBER, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot, The Forward, The Costa and The Griffin International Poetry Prizes.  His verse version of the Spanish Golden Age comedy Don Gil of the Green Breeches by Tirso de Molina opened at Bath Theatre Royal in 2013, before transferring to the Arcola, London in 2014. 

‘…It is masterly. O’Brien is pitch-perfect, never swanks and is amazingly versatile.’ – Observer


Maureen Duffy will be reading from her seventh collection, Environmental Studies, which was published by Enitharmon in May 2013. It is centred on environments – human, insect and animal – some experienced personally, some observed, some imagined. Though strictly contemporary in her concerns, she reaches back in her poetry to childhood, and beyond that in her imagination to cultural figures of the past – John Donne, Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, bringing them lucidly and vividly to life. 

There is a strong sense of compassion and fair play in her poems, reflecting Duffy’s lifelong support for progressive social and political movements, and a beautiful lyricism and technical skill derived from her love of the classical world and Old and Mediaeval English. As so often in her work, London past and present provides the backdrop to her real and imagined life stories: of love and loss, forebears and friends, the humorous and sometimes painful experiences of old age.

Maureen Duffy is the author of 33 published works of fiction, including  7 collections of poetry,  non-fiction, and 16 plays for stage, screen and radio. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of King’s College London, and a Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature,as well as President of Honour of the British Copyright Council and the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society which last year distributed £30 million to 80,00 authors, and a CISAC gold medallist. She was  awarded a D. Litt by Loughborough University for contributions to literature and equality law reform,and also by the University of Kent.  

‘Maureen Duffy deserves serious acclaim as a poet, as much as an original novelist.’ –Elaine Feinstein, The Times 


Yang Lian has been one of the most innovative and influential poets in China, before and since his exile.  Widely hailed in America and Europe as a highly individual voice in world literature, he has been translated into more than 25 languages. 

Born in Switzerland, Yang Lian grew up in China and now lives in London.  He published 11 volumes of poetry, 2 volumes of prose as well as 1 volume of essays. His representative works including YI, Where the Sea Stands Still; Concentric Circles; Riding Pisces: Poems from Five Collections; Lee Valley Poems… Etc. His latest publication in English was Jade Ladder, an anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry edited by him,W.N. Herbert and others. Among other prizes, he won the International Capri Prize 2014, “Tian Duo” (Heavenly Bell) prize for the  long poem 2013 and Nonino International Literature Prize 2012 (the jury of the prize presided by V S Naipaul), and he has been elected a board member of PEN International PEN in 2008 and 2011. Yang Lian has been invited to become a member of The Norwegian Academy for Literature and Freedom of Expression in 2013.

‘Yang Lian has a westernist, modernist sensibility allied with an ancient Chinese, almost shamanistic one. He can both excite and frighten you – like MacDiarmid meets Rilke with Samurai sword drawn’ WN Herbert, The Scotsman, 

‘Yang Lian …… the most important voice of Modern Chinese lyrics.’ ,  Frankfurter Allgemeine Zietung.

            POETRY 14 APRIL


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