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Poets come to Open Ealing to share their experiences

Two of the UK’s leading contemporary poets shared their poems along with insights into how they became poets and the process taken to create their work at an event held at Open Ealing.

Katharine Towers and Zaffar Kunial both read from their respective works, took questions from a packed audience and spoke with passion about what poetry means to them in the first of the series of Poets Talking.

The event at Open Ealing was in collaboration with University of West London’s English & Creative Writing Programme where lecturer in creative writing John Saddler teaches. Mr Saddler made arrangements for the two distinguished poets to appear in Ealing and introduced them to the audience.

Based on what was delivered at the first event, Poets Talking is set to be the place for poets to come to Ealing during 2023 and for audiences to learn about their work as well as getting first hand hints and tips on how to develop their own work.

Mr Saddler said: “I’m a part-time lecturer of creative writing. The idea was originally to bring writers to the University to read, perform and talk to our students. I came to Open Ealing during the summer and I felt it is a great place for poetry. So we decided to open it up to the public as it fits in very well to what we like to do. So here we are.”

Katharine Towers, who was born in London and now lives in the Peak District, had her first collection of poems The Floating Man published in 2010 and one of the poems from it appeared as a Poem on the Underground. Ms Towers’ work reflects her interest in the natural worlds and a love of music.

Ms Towers offered her introduction to poetry: “Since I was really little, I’ve written. I used to make books and write stories about rabbits and that kind of thing. But when I got older, poetry wasn’t on my radar. I was obsessed with Iris Murdoch and read all her novels.  So I tried to write novels. I wrote two absolutely terrible novels. So I thought I’d try something perhaps less ambitious. I didn’t realise that I was actually much more interested in language and words than in stories of what happens.  The big thing that really tipped me over into realising this was when I had my daughters and suddenly had much less time. Poetry sort of offered itself up as something that I might undertake.”

Zaffar Kunial was born in Birmingham and lives in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. The son of an English mother and a Kashmiri father, he has used his own identity as the central subject for his 2018 poetry collection called Us. In 2022, he was one of the winners of the Windham Campbell Prize.

Mr Kunial spoke about how he came to poetry later in life and he never thought he was going to write anything personal:c “I never thought I was going to write about anything personal.I also thought that would be too revealing. The finding my voice came with writing a little bit more personally, about parents often, particularly my father, language and stuff. When I started doing that, I realised I didn’t know how to as interesting as that there was no model for it.”


Poets Talking
Poets Talking event at Open Ealing

Poets Talking took place at the Open Ealing Arts Centre which is located by Dickens Yard in Ealing Broadway.

For details on this and other events at Open Ealing, click here

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