Ian Duhig (b. 1954, London) is particularly celebrated for his poem ‘The Lammas Hireling’, which won both the National Poetry Competition and the 2001 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. Having worked with homeless people for fifteen years and finding, as he writes, that ‘location and poetry dissolve into each other for me’, Duhig has inserted a rare depth of understanding of his native Leeds into his poetry.
‘Poetry drew me in because it can contain so much so easily in its own paradoxical compass’, he has written. Certainly paradoxical clashes frequently find expression in his poetry, including The Blind Roadmaker, his shortlisted collection; modern chatter alongside myth and lore, litheness of thought alongside strict metrical forms, a mischievous humour alongside a devastating sense of tragedy. Chosen as one of the Poetry Book Society’s New Generation of poets in 1994, with Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage, Duhig shares those poets’ ability to dramatise contemporary concerns in technically accomplished verse.
Duhig’s advice to aspiring poets is practical: ‘learn to live on very little. Never underestimate what a massive pain in the arse you will be to your loved ones and everybody else. Be lucky and be kind.’
Forward Prizes History: