The Man from N.U.N.C.L.E.

Durham University Centre for Poetry and Poetics

Gareth Reeves reads from Nuncle Music, 18 October, Prior’s Hall in Durham Cathedral

“Squeals, welts, efflorescences… amplitudes, harmonics, sardonics”. Matthew Griffiths reviews Nuncle Music, an evening of poetry, music, and painting after Shostakovich with Gareth Reeves, Edward Cheesman, and Barrie Ormsby, as part of Durham Book Festival.


Gareth Reeves’s Nuncle Music has gathered force with each new poem. A sequence in the voice of the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, which the author describes as a ‘psychodrama’, it has been accumulating for some time, with Durham audiences treated to excerpts from it at several readings in recent years. Reeves’s appearance at Prior’s Hall on 18 October is something of a crescendo, as he performs an extended selection of material from the book Nuncle Music, recently published by Carcanet.

Around a kernel of a dozen or so more familiar pieces from the sequence (trailed in the publication of Reeves’s To Hell with Paradise:…

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