poetry in action

Sorry to do this to you on your bank holiday, but to be a practicing poet these days is to be the direct polar opposite of the cave or garret-dweller – no, you have to get out there! So I’m going to have to draw attention to myself again, but mainly in the cause of drawing it to other people. In fact, I have two crossover transatlantic poetry puffs for you.

1. A Bank Holiday Monday poetry reading

If your bank holiday evening seems a bit flat, anti-climactic, bathetic, it’s not too late – you can still have fun! Ernest Hilbert, the laid-back bard of E-Verse Radio and Sixty Sonnets fame, and a wonderful reader, is over from the USA for one reading only, tonight, in Bloomsbury. To give him the best of a London welcome we’ve got the always-riveting Richard Price reading, and Jon Stone from his new pamphlet, Scarecrows), and me. Maybe some new stuff. And I might even read my poem Richard Price.

It’s at 7pm – Lamb Pub, Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1 – £3 at the door and a snip at the price. (But we won’t give you the snip. That’d be extra.)

2. A gratifying take on the London poetry scene

At least a little part of it. Regular readers may recall that POETRY magazine senior editor, Salt poet and blogger Don Share was in the UK recently, and took part in a food-themed reading at the Betsey Trotwood pub in honour of Craig Arnold… It was one of Roddy Lumsden’s famous themed poetry events, which are notable partly for the fact that if you’re taking part you have to write a new poem for the occasion – so they create a novel sense of the level playing field, and help generate new work, and the atmosphere is always one of having fun rather than showing off (or whatever you think poets do normally). (Don’t worry – we’ll all be showing off hideously this evening.)

Well, Don has gone away back to Chicago now and blogged his impressions of the night. Admittedly, it was the longed-for arrival of a friend from afar, so his account isn’t as impartial as, say, a judge’s. But it is very interesting and gratifying to read an account of  how we look from the outside, and find it good. Like getting a phone call after your child’s been to tea somewhere, and the other mother’s going on about how they helped to clear the table without being asked. Yes!

Don says, “Roddy puts together themed multi-poet events that have warmth, spirit, and heart” – and this is true. I think it’s a good thing to remember as we go through our own shark-infested version of the native waters. He also says, “One salutary thing about UK readings is that poets read work by other people in addition to their own.” It’s salutary to hear that this is salutary; and I do indeed really like reading other people’s work. Maybe even more than reading my own.

I laughed when I read that he “especially enjoyed seeing Tim Wells, who has absolutely no counterpart in the US – click here for proof!”

And best of all, after saying some very nice things indeed about me (blush), Don says: “Katy has a witty new chapbook called Oscar & Henry, that saucily mashes up Oscar Wilde and Henry James…”

Well, I had to share it. I know it’s a bit of a love-fest, but as I say, it’s like being told you have the best kid in the world. And as for Don, his assigned letter was P. (Mine was Q, and I wrote an anecdote about a quince.) He wrote about Pronto Pups – a Memphis speciality, apparently, and a sort of breed of corn dog (which is a hot dog in cornbread) – and I will just say that I think London is now craving its own Pronto Pups! It was an electrifying reading.

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