Monday, 19 September 2016

A whole day of poetry

Conway Hall
A whole day of poetry. That's what happened on Saturday when I attended the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair at Conway Hall in London. I managed to get there by 11am in time to hear four poets from Seren read. I was particularly moved by Caroline Smith's poems from The Immigration Handbook that I had to go and buy myself a copy.

I had rooted myself to the spot for the next two sessions, the first was a rather coldified Ian Harker high on Lemsip and reading poems from a forthcoming Templar Pamphlet. I felt very sorry for him but he just about managed to read his selection and I enjoyed his poetry. Oversteps Books came next. I was taken by the wonderful words of Janet Loverseed and the humour of Simon Williams poetry, so I had to go and buy their books too. Are you getting the drift of this?!

Here I took a break and threw myself into the main hall where the publishers, poets and networking was going on.....and money passed hands! I was already loaded up with my goody bag, which I'd had a quick glance through while waiting for the next readers in the Brockway Room, and I could see this was the way of things to come. I introduced myself to several people - the lovely people at Paper Swan Press (just bought a book off their website - see I'm still buying...the money almost ran out on the day), Valley Press, HappenStance where I bought Helena Nelson's Down With Poetry, Gatehouse Press and Stonewood Press, who I will come to in a moment.

I headed out the garden over the road in Red Lion Square and bought myself a hot chocolate and a sticky bun (well it was a little chilly and hell to the cholesterol for one day) and sat on a bench eating my home made sandwich before diving into the said bun. I wandered back for another mooch around the main hall and then headed for the Brockway Room for three more sessions of poetry readings. The first one at 2pm were three poets from Burning Eye Books. Emily Harrison's readings knocked me out. I loved her poetry and intend to buy a copy of her book soon. Clinic readers followed but by this time I am sorry to say that I'd hit my low of the afternoon. I'd had a disturbed night with little sleep and I was struggling. I cannot really remember much about it and sadly the same can be said with the three readers from Shearsman Books. I think I may have actually nodded off at one point. Sorry guys, I just couldn't keep my eyes open.

Jade Anouka (sorry mobile has a terrible camera zoom - it has
a nerve to even call itself that!)
I shook myself awake enough to stagger out to the garden again, bought a cup of tea and sat listening to Jade Anouka. I loved her poem Eggs on Toast. Then came Stonewood Press launching Traverse Poetry Trading Cards. I had already been given my rare Walt Whitman card (number 13 of 100 and only available at the fair that day - you cannot buy it folks) as I was one of their supporters in the crowdfunding for this great idea. Apparently my gift is arriving this week - some couplets! Everyone attending the launch was given a free card to choose (take a card, any card) and I got Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The readers were Jacqueline Gabbitas of Stonewood Press and whose idea it was, Kathryn Maris, Anna Robinson, Pippa Hennessy and Wayne Burrows. Each read from two or three cards, one classic poet and one brand new one and a poem of their own.

Think of these cards like Pokemon or Top Trumps. You buy, trade and swap. I bought one set which contained three cards - William Morris, Fawzia Kane and Myra Schneider. Some cards are rare and some mid-rare, others plentiful. It's all quite exciting. There will be trading events and all this reminds me of when my son used to do trading cards. Sadly at 27 he is still chasing Pokemon, but hey, it could be a lot worse.

Jacqueline Gabbitas (Stonewood Press)

The Goody bag

The books I bought
Traverse Poetry Trading Cards
I always treat this fair as my chance to hear new poets and to stock up on poetry until the fair comes around again, There were readings going on later in the pub over the road but I headed home well satisfied with my day.

(Links for other poetry publishers can be found on The Poetry Book Fair website)

I had been putting off booking anything for the Winchester Poetry Festival because of certain things going on in my life, but decided now was the time to see if there was any accommodation left in Winchester for that weekend, bearing in mind that there is a BBC History weekend running at the same time. Everywhere was booked up as thought, but a lady we'd stayed with before suggested the new Premier Inn which is just outside Winchester. We got a room! It will be a bit of walk in but at least I will be there. I haven't yet seen what tickets are left for events, but I have decided that I won't do any workshops this time. I want to relax and listen to poetry readings or poets speaking about their work. In fact reading poetry books and attending readings is what I want to do. I'm not intentionally writing poetry right now. If something comes along that's different. I feel this is an important time to just enjoy poetry. No pressure to write. My husband is coming to Winchester with me, though he doesn't usually attend any readings with me. He has his own agenda. We do things together and apart. I love Winchester anyway. I'm looking forward to seeing my favourite cafe and taking some lovely walks. Maybe I will see some of you there.

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