2021 Poet in Residence

Introducing the 2021 Poet in Residence…

Ian Duhig

Previous Poets in Residence include Imtiaz Dharker, Daljit Nagra, Andrew McMillan, Zaffar Kunial and Colette Bryce.

Following in their footsteps, Ian will be making his mark on the festival, programming an online poetry showcase, taking part in a reading, running a writing workshop for adults, and producing a commissioned piece responding to one of the festival’s themes.

He will also judge the annual Walter Swan Poetry Prize (open until 31 July) and act as mentor to the Apprentice Poet in Residence, Rheima Robinson.

Image of a white man wearing glasses and with a beard.

Ian became a full-time writer after working with homeless people for fifteen years and has since published seven books of poetry. His most recent collection ‘The Blind Roadmaker’ (Picador, 2016), is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation shortlisted for the TS Eliot and Forward Prizes. Ian has won the Forward Best Poem Prize once, the National Poetry Competition twice, and has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize four times. He is a Cholmondeley Award recipient, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and this year is one of the judges for the Costa Poetry Prize.

His next collection, ‘New and Selected Poems’, will be published by Picador in December 2021. Ian also continues to work on projects for disadvantaged groups, locally with Leeds Irish Health and Homes and the David Oluwale Memorial Association, as well as with artists, filmmakers and musicians, ranging from The Clerks, an early music vocal ensemble, to composer Christopher Fox whose music is rooted in the post-war Darmstadt tradition.

Book cover of black background with line drawing of a deer in gold lines

Ian said “I’m delighted to be the Ilkley Literature Festival’s Poet in Residence for more reasons than I have room to say. This is the festival I have visited most often in my writing career because of the quality of its programming, the imagination of its theming and the tremendous audiences it draws.

Ilkley Literature Festival is not frightened to put together challenging events alongside its up-to-the-minute popular attractions, marrying the best of contemporary literature today with what may be so in the future. I particularly admire its community links and commitment to cross-arts projects which are enormously stimulating to writers like myself, and I hope my new commission with a brilliant musician will live up to the standard of previous years.

I also look forward to working with local writers and reading the competition entries: people put the best of themselves into their poetry and it is a privilege to share their experience. The Festival provides platforms for marvellous writers to show their best and I am honoured to be part of that in 2021.”