Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the bookshop… National Poetry Month is heading for Britain

Well! No sooner do we have National Poetry DAY out of the way, than we find THIS cropping up! Surely it is completely unnecessary, the same thing all over again?

Mais non. This is something completely different. Here are some facts:

It will be in April 2012. So you have time to build your tolerance.
It will be a campaign with, for, and via bookshops – so keep an eye on what’s happening in your local. And if you are yourself a poet, maybe go in and ask them if they’d like to get involved with a reading or other event.
Think of it as a giant, national offshoot -¬† though technically it isn’t, as it’s been in the pipeline (we can reveal) for a while – of last month’s amazing wonderful indie poetry press fair in Exmouth Market, Free Verse. Let’s face it – most poetry is an indie book fair. It’s a chance to get out there and celebrate it!
And it’s designed as a complement, not a rival, for the existing Poetry Day – which is aimed more at members of the public, not the industry.
It will help readers, who want to know what poetry to read, but don’t even know who to ask.
It will also be nice for bookshops. They need help too.
It will be one in the eye for all those people who think – if there are any of them left – that the Olympics is the be-all and end-all of everything Britain can hope to achieve in this world or the next. The ancient Romans said a healthy MIND in a healthy body, right? Well, one way to build mind muscles is to read poetry.
Also, poetry looks really good in Dalston right about now.
Think, if you’ve seen it, of the quote from John Waters that’s been doing the rounds lately, on what you should do if you go home with someone and find that they don’t have books in their house. (‘Don’t **** them’.)* If you ARE that person, this is the antidote.
It will make you really, really cool.
But maybe not as cool as Roger.

National Poetry Month is being launched by Salt Publishing, on behalf of all poetry and all bookshops – and all readers – in Britain.
I have long said that if the publishers and bookshops got together and simply decided that poetry was going to sell, it would. It will take more than a month-long push once a year to achieve this, but you have to start somewhere, and the first leap – the imaginative one – is always the hardest. So take a deep breath…

Recipes for triolet, villanelle and cinquain cocktails are invited and will perhaps form the basis of something fabulous here in Baroque Mansions. So please send them. Let’s all build up our capacity.

* Yeah, that’s right: we don’t encourage a lot of crude language on this blog. Strong thought, yes; and, clearly, strong drinks. We like our language¬† strong, but subtle.


Simon R. Gladdish October 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

Dear Katy

Unfortunately, I can’t afford to be anywhere near as fussy as John Waters! On Tuesday night on Radio 4 I listened to Wondermentalist Cabaret presented by Matt Harvey and I must say that I haven’t enjoyed a poetry programme so much in ages. It was essentially light, witty, clever, funny performance poetry. (A bit like my own, in fact!) I thought that maybe this is the direction that poetry should be moving in – more towards poets like Roger McGough than Seamus Heaney who has never been long on laughs.

Best wishes from Simon

John October 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Triolet: Creme de Violette, Amaretto and lemon juice, layered in a highball
Villanelle: Vodka, pineapple juice and a twist of lemon
Cinquain: Something with five liquors – a variation on Long Island Iced Tea.

It would be nice if there was a way of layering cocktails which would correspond to the rhyme schemes of a villanelle or a triolet, but I think you’d need too many different ingredients.

Ms Baroque October 14, 2011 at 5:07 pm

What are you, some kind of poetry genius or something? Those are magnificent! But would it be possible actually to drink a triolet, or would the drinker simply pass out from the fumes?

And come on, all you everybody else. Get mixing please.

rj October 15, 2011 at 1:26 am

Villanelle — St. Germaine, ginger beer (or ginger ale) over ice with a splash of wine.

John Waters has been sighted at a food market near my house. Alas, all I ever see are the canned beans. Well, that and the lovely folk of Baltimore. Can’t say the man has stretched too much of the truth.

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