Event Report: The Inaugural Canham Turner Public Lecture Series in the Arts with Carol Ann Duffy

On Friday 16th November we welcomed anaudience of over 200 alumni, staff, students and friends of the University of Hull to campus to attend the Inaugural Canham Turner Public Lecture Series in the Arts. The Vice-Chancellor Professor Susan Lea took to the stage to greet our alumni, students and donors and gave us some background about Barbara Canham Turner. Barbara was a talented and ambitious local girl who achieved much despite suffering from a form of Cerebral Palsy. She graduated from our predecessor institution, University College, Hull, in 1942 with a starred first in English Literature, a phenomenal success whilst studying during the Second World War in one of the most heavily bombed cities in the UK. Barbara went on to live a wonderful life, working at the British Council, travelling the world and enjoying the Arts wherever possible. This lecture series is part of the way the University of Hull has chosen to honour and celebrate Barbara’s legacy of £3.5million.

The evening began with a warm welcome from the Vice Chancellor. Two current PhD in Creative Writing students then read some of their poetry, which was a well-received warm-up to the main act. Carol Ann took to the stage with her characteristically wicked and dry sense of humour to read some of the poems from her latest collection Sincerity. If the passage of time is one of the key themes of her work, it was, in reality, barely noticed by the audience as we were swept along, absorbed in the poetry, only to be released, afterwards, into a world that felt better for the creative intervention. The breadth and range of poetry, the subjects covered, the effortless slipping between different moods and tones, from humour to poignancy, from anger to grief, polemical argument to patient reflection, all combined to leave no doubt that we were in the hands of a master of the craft at the height of her creative powers. Certainly, there could have been no better or more fitting performer for the inauguration of the Canham Turner Public Lecture series.

The event closed with a greatly anticipated book signing with the Poet Laureate in the newly refurbished Bronte Bar. We look forward to the 2019 installation of this prestigious lecture series, and hope many of you will join us again.

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