There was a lovely display of poetry books at the Mappin Street Blackwell’s on Wednesday night. I was warmly welcomed by organisers and hosts Bev Nadin and Ben Wilkinson and had time for a chat with fellow readers and guests before the reading.
Reading poetry to an audience for twenty minuets in a brightly lit and pin-drop quiet bookshop is hard. Despite my familiarity with my own poems, some of the emotion bottled there will occasionally leap out to catch me by surprise and make reading difficult. My voice was a bit cracked due to a sore throat, and I was a tad more nervous than usual. I did overcome my nerves to read some newer poems as well as a selection from ‘The Sun Bathers’ and my rehearsed links seemed to work well according to my supportive friends Vicky and Zaffar and Chris.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to fellow poets Shelley Roche- Jacques, Janet Rogerson and Rory Waterman, all of whom read superbly. I’d thoroughly recommend Janet’s Rialto pamphlet ‘A Bad Influence Girl’ which John McAuliffe accurately describes as a place where ‘the extraordinary meets the recognisable and everyday’ in poems ‘whose timing is bewilderingly confident and assured.’
There is a tremendous two page review of poetry pamphlets in the TLS today entitled ‘Catching The Light’. Andrew McCulloch has written a skilful summary of recent publications, allocating a paragraph each to eighteen pamphlets in what reads as a ‘best of 2012-13’ selection. I’m very pleased that my friends Kim Moore, Suzannah Evans, David Clarke, Ian Parks and Jodie Hollander ( two of whom have recently been interviewed on this blog) all receive favourable reviews, as Andrew McCulloch succinctly identifies the main strengths of the various collections .
My own ‘Gopagilla’ is also reviewed with quotations from ‘Zen Garden,’ ‘The River Swimmers’ and ‘La Gioconda.’ I was very happy to read McCulloch’s comment that my poems ‘hold words to the light until they catch it and flash with sudden truth.’
It is a tribute to the production and editorial values of my first publisher, Crystal Clear, that this pamphlet has made it into such esteemed company. Although all the presses can be described as ‘small’ , excellent presses such as Smith Doorstop, Flarestack, Tall Lighthouse and Rack have all been established for some time. The series produced by Crystal Clear Creators was a first venture into pamphlet production.