A poets’ corner at city gallery

Picture the Poet at Graves Art Gallery: Benjamin Zephaniah by Donald MacLellan, 'August 1996 � Donald MacLellan
Picture the Poet at Graves Art Gallery: Benjamin Zephaniah by Donald MacLellan, 'August 1996 � Donald MacLellan
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We read their words but mostly we have no idea what the writers of poetry actually look like.

A new exhibition, Picture the Poet, at the Graves Gallery seeks to bridge the gap with pictures of 55 living writers taken from its massive collection, which is now on show in Sheffield.

Alison Morton, exhibition and display curator at Museums Sheffield, said: “The premise of the show is to reveal some of the character of our most well-known poets.

“It’s a mixture of black and white and colour and formal studio portraits and more informal settings. Some are more in a reportage style.

“It does show a lot of styles, which in itself is quite interesting.”

The pictures date from 1970s to the present day.

The Bard of Barnsley, Ian McMillan, is in the show and other poets with a local connection are Simon Armitage, Andrew Motion, Benjamin Zephaniah, Carol Ann Duffy and Roger McGough.

Simon Armitage is Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield and the others all have their work on display at public buildings and spaces in Sheffield.

The gallery gift shop is selling a Sheffield poetry trail guide for £1, compiled by Our Favourite Places, which shows where all the public poetry can be seen in the city.

Audio posts in the exhibition give listeners the chance to hear an interview with Andrew Motion about having his portrait taken and he also reveals some of his working day.

He gets up at 5am to write before his day job of teaching starts at 9am.

In another recording, photographer Madeleine Waller, who has done a series of portraits of poets, talks about the day they made Andrew Motion’s portrait together.

She said he chose to be photographed in his study.

They went outside for a break in the garden and realised that was the right place. She said they talked about losing their fathers, which seems to be reflected in the picture.

The National Portrait Gallery has the largest collection of photographic portraits in the country which they are building up.

Alison said the gallery has asked poetry organisations in Sheffield whose pictures they should be adding to the collection.

Young people got the chance to work with a professional photographer in a workshop on taking photographic portraits.

The results of their work are also on show in the gallery.

Events taking place during the show will include a live poetry event on October 17 and a free event on November 28, which will feature John Agard, one of the poets whose portrait is in the show.

The exhibition will run until November 29. The gallery, on the top floor of the Central Library on Surrey Street, is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 11am-4pm, and Wednesdays 1pm–6pm.