Just a couple of days ago the city of Derry was awash with poetry and music. It really was a day/night with a difference. In the afternoon, children enjoyed the delightful Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson at the Waterside theatre. Here they gave a special performance for the young folk and their parents. Laughter, the appreciation of the spoken word and accompanying music were the focus of the event! The kids were introduced to such characters as Mozart (who even made an appearance in person), Picasso, Elvis, Virginia Wolff and Shakespeare!

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and musician/actor John Sampson were in Derry for two special performances during this year as City of Culture Literary Programme, in association with Guildhall Press (Derry), Yes! Publications & the Derry Writers’ Group. Carol Ann Duffy, CBE, FRSL is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester University, and was appointed Britain’s poet laureate in May 2009. John Sampson is an Edinburgh-based professional musician, composer and actor.

Saturday night saw the second event take place at St. Cecelia’s College in the Creggan, Derry. A full house awaited the performance from this dynamic duo. Introduced by local award winning poet Jenni Doherty the Derry audience were certainly in for a treat.

The amazing John Sampson provided musical interludes…an arsenal of exotic wind instruments, from the honk and squeak of the crumhorn, which looked like a small bent walking stick, to the smooth and melodious hilusi, a Chinese flute. On a number of occasions the words and music combined, pipe tunes weaving through densely alliterative verses, building a crescendo of word and sound then falling to silence. The effect was truly mesmerising. At one point Sampson played two recorders at the same time. Duffy read from a series of her collections and wowed the Derry audience. Carol Ann Duffy had people in laughter, tears, mesmerised and always wanting more. She read from the heart and touched many hearts on the night.

Duffy and Sampson certainly entertained the people of Derry and left them wanting more. Here’s hoping they will indeed get more in the future from this amazing duo!