St David's Day. Only three days to go until the start of Words by theWater, the festival of words and ideas at Keswick. I think that this year, because of the severe floods in December, Keswick needs the buzz which the festival brings to the town more than ever. The festival has become an annual feature of the Cumbrian literary calendar and it's always exciting to see which authors are going to be speaking.
In the past few years there have been complaints about the shortage of poetry events so I am pleased to see that this year there are nine poetry events planned - and there is something for everyone.
The popular participation events, the Poetry Breakfast and the Mirehouse Poetry Competition, have been reinstated. There are a variety of contemporary poetry readings from Grevel Lindop, Christopher Matthew (famous for Now We Are Sixty), and the Eden Poets. Poets will join other Cumbrian writers for the flood fund raising reading. Maggie How, Hideyuki Sobue and Gary Boswell will explain Wordsworth's influence and inspiration for their work. Jonathan Bate will talk on Ted Hughes and Grevel Lindop will talk on Charles Williams.
Beyond the poetry I am looking forward to hearing, amongst others, Linda Cracknell on walking, John Gimlette on Sri Lanka, Amy Liptrot on Orkney, and Alice Roberts (yes, she of Coast fame) on the Celts. So many talks, so little time!
One special event for me is Janet Denny's talk on her book The Man on the Mantelpiece. I first met Janet about two and a half years ago and she told me she was writing a book about her father, a once ardent pacifist who ended up flying in RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War. A year ago Janet was agonising over the cover design. Now the book is out and it is a fascinating read.
The festival is always stimulating, frequently hectic (for me at least!). There is the pleasure of catching up with old friends and the serendipity of meeting new people in chance conversations over coffee.
I hope to see you there!