Thursday, 6 February 2014


Only a month to go to Words by the Water, Keswick’s annual literary festival, and I’m particularly looking forward to the poets on stage.  I’m glad that there are a few more poets this year – perhaps this is the result of a bit of local lobbying! 

On the first day of the festival Louis de Bernières is reading from Imagining Alexandria (a collection of poems set in Captain Correlli’s Mandolin territory) and Blake Morrison will provoke us with his sharp sit up and take notice poems.  A couple of days later Don Paterson will give us “My life in poems” followed by a tribute to Norman Nicholson by Kathleen Jones and Neil Curry.  Photographer Val Corbett and poet Paula Day are sharing their collaboration Trees.  Helen Farish is judging the annual Mirehouse poetry competition and I’m looking forward to hearing the winning poems at the awards event.  Helen will be giving one of her very special poetry readings at that event.  Unfortunately I was too late to book for the River Greta walk in the steps of Wordsworth, Southey and Coleridge – but I live in hope as the first name on the waiting list.

Meanwhile I’m busy working my way through my allocated books for my chairing sessions.  Alev Scott’s Turkish Awakening is a fascinating insight into modern Turkey, a country which seems to be pulled like a piece of elastic between Europe and the Middle East.

Reading and the Reader by Philip Davis is full of wonderful insights into literature and the value of reading in contemporary culture.  You know the times when you read something and have to stop and let your thoughts and emotions spread out and multiply from that small centre of words?  Philip Davis calls it “the creation of an energy-field by a writer”.

I haven’t started Ewan Clayton’s The Golden Thread: The Story of Writing but it looks good and is well illustrated.

Meanwhile as the rain continues to fall I hope the words will stay by the water.