Saturday, 27 July 2019

LAUNCHING MY BOOK - and a river

LAVENDER MENACE proclaimed the bookshop banner.

Last Tuesday I was in Edinburgh for the launch of my Alphabet Poems at the Lighthouse bookshop.  I was with fellow Mariscat poet, Vickie Husband, who read the whole of her pamphlet Sykkel Saga, an enthralling journey through the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway.

It was great to see some familiar faces in the audience – friends from Cumbria and a fellow writer from last autumn’s Tŷ Newydd poetry masterclass.   The bookshop was full and extra chairs were brought in – always a good sign.  I read C, A. D, W, V, G, J, Q and Z – not in alphabetical order, you might object, but they weren’t written in alphabetical order.  Having the letters on cards seemed to work well – at least people could remember what letter I was reading about and no one complained it was like being back in a primary classroom. 

A big thank you to Hamish Whyte and Diana Hendry of Mariscat Press for publishing my poems and for organising such a successful launch.

The Lighthouse bookshop is a small bookshop with a big poetry section (I bought Isabel Galleymore’s Significant Other).  The poetry selection was impressive not only for the number of books and pamphlets but also for the variety of poets and publishers represented, including work from several very small presses.

The Lighthouse describes itself as Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop.  I hadn’t realised that I had spent most of the evening under that banner and it was only later that I discovered its significance.  Poetry is radical.

Alphabet Poems is published by Mariscat Press
ISBN  978 1 9160609 2 0


The Avon, to be precise.  The name comes directly from the Welsh for a river, afon, but the previous week I was a long way from my Welsh home.  I was staying at Holland House in the village of Cropthorne, Worcestershire.  The house is half-timbered and thatched (very Midlands), with a well-cherished garden running down to the river Avon.

I was on the Second Light Poetry Residential week – a chance to devote a whole week to poetry without interruptions.  There were creative writing workshops from two excellent tutors, Mimi Khalvati and Caroline Price, and opportunities to workshop our own poems.  Several of us took the opportunity to give short readings of our work.  A ‘let your hair down’ evening (not difficult for me!) found me reading my Shakespeare poem ‘Crab’, in the voice of the dog in the Two Gentlemen of Verona.  There were readings and sessions from two surprise mystery guests who turned out to be Alison Brackenbury and Myra Schneider.

But above all it was the positive, encouraging atmosphere created by the brilliantly organised and generous Dilys Wood and Anne Stewart that made the week so special.  It was the most stimulating and imaginative poetry course I have ever attended.

And the Avon flowed past, from Shakespeare’s Stratford Upon ---- down to the sea.

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