Andrew McMillan was Durham Book Festival poet laureate in 2017. He performs a new poem, ‘Coalfield Dementia’, inspired by how towns and villages across the North East have come to terms with the aftermath of the pit closures. Communities are nostalgic for the past, but don’t genuinely want to return to it; at the same time, it’s hard to envision exactly what their future should look like.
The poem begins, though, not with broad historical events, but with a personal moment of pure romance, the first time Andrew McMillan ever kissed a boy – on Darlington train station.
The Durham Book Festival laureate is selected and supported by the Centre for Poetry and Poetics.