A post reading report and ‘Catching the light’

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.


Flarestack launch at Ikon Gallery

I attended the launch of the Flarestack competition winners in Birmingham on Wednesday night. The venue was the marvelous Ikon Gallery.
There were about fifteen readers from the competition anthology ‘Sylvia Is Missing’, which includes Michael Conley’s surreal, funny and sinister poem ‘Aquarium’ from which the title of the collection is taken. We were also treated to excellent readings from the two worthy winners of the competition,  David Clarke and Nichola Deane. As a contributor to the anthology I was given a copy on arrival, and as with all Flarestack products it really is a thing of beauty. I very much enjoyed reading to the audience in the gallery, surrounded by wonderful paintings and photographs, but as usual with these gatherings the highlight for me was meeting and chatting to poets including  Jaqui Rowe and Meredith Andrea of Flarestack .
I liked a lot of what I heard and read, particularly Nicky Arscott’s poems.  Given that her poems were so vital and visual it came as no surprise to find out that Nicky is a brilliant painter. You can see some of her work if you click this link.   

You can read more about this event by clicking this link to David Clarke’s blog which also contains a link to Gary Longden’s review.