Then Saturday and De Montfort held it's fifth annual book festival 'States of Independence'. There were lots of interesting panels and book stalls. I ended up buying loads of things. States was also the venue where I met my second Liverpudlian poet of the week, Sarah Crewe. She was reading with Alan Baker and my other colleague Kathy Bell, as part of a panel of Oystercatcher readers. Sarah's poems were a breath of fresh air for me. Alan's were full of intricacy. There was so much energy in that room and it was great to hear poems from Kathy's new pamphlet 'At the Memory Exchange.' I also attended the Soundswrite panel. They're a local group of women writers who meet up regularly in Leicester. Caroline Cook delivered a strong reading from her new Soundswrite pamphlet 'Primer' and there was a host of other poets reading too, including Jayne Stanton who will soon have a pamphlet out with Soundswrite as well. Also went to Deborah Tyler Bennett's and Ann Featherstone's Music Hall panel. For a few moments I dreamed of being Vesta Tilley, wouldn't that be an interesting way to live?
I also hosted a panel with Rich Goodson, Cora Greenhill and Gregory Woods about 'The Poetry of Sex' anthology. We read poems about and around the theme. Some more 'about' than others! We all have poems in the anthology of the same name. There were some mixed feelings about the book aired in the panel. Suppose all anthologies run that risk. I don't really write about sex directly (is this sometimes a 'female' thing?), so I placed the work in the context of my upbringing, life and culture. One of the poem's I read was 'Ante' which appeared in New Walk magazine last year, and was about the decision to have children:
Our children are only a blueprint. We imagine their milky bodies
flickering in a sonogram. We unpack our cases. They’re hiding
under our crisp bed in the hotel. The sun sinks into a cocktail glass.
Mouth the Spanish word for blood, think out loud: there will be
so many things to learn. Drink one guilty mouthful; let bubbles
fizz between your teeth. Mark this occasion of knowing in silence.
You no longer recognise the tilted face on the curve of your glass.
Obviously that decision changed mine and my husband's life considerably! Our twins were also at States and were jubilant at having won a box of chocolates in the WORD! raffle and having a go at printing out letters courtesy of Cleeve Press. There were many stalls and it was great to see Jane at the Nine Arches Press one, as well as Jacqui Rowe at Flarestack. Brought three pamphlets! Was good to see 'The Interpreter's House' on sale too. Editor Martin Malone was selling copies of the magazine and the latest issue (55) is great. Also nice to see the poet David Clarke over from Cheltenham, we chatted about the pleasures and pains of poetry reviewing during lunch. There were lots of things I wanted to attend, but it was impossible as the sessions were back to back. Roy Marshall and Rory Waterman would've been a treat, as would've Renni Parker and the WORD! Crew. Sorry I couldn't cover everything!
Ok, so here's my obligatory shot of all the books I brought..actually they're pamphlets:
It's good to go to such events! Especially at a time when I'm finding little time for my own writing. The small presses save the day... again.
p.s. I have two poems on Josephine Corcoran's excellent blog 'And Other Poems' including the one about a certain actor, which you can read here.