Look at that rain.
It’s FREEZING out!
The balcony is drenched and that’s no bad thing for the flowers and herbs, but the icy blasts blasting into Baroque Mansions are another thing completely. I can’t endorse them. The plants look fine, but everybody’s cold. And this year there actually was a bit of a summer; we have to hang onto that.
It was back to school in the best possible way on Saturday, where the Free Verse Book Fair (3rd annual) attracted something in the region of upwards of 700 people over a packed day of readings and networking – and selling – in Conway Hall, where the stalls were packed in like – like – like pages into a spine…
I have to say I think I am definitely out of practice at these giant rooms full of everyone you haven’t seen in a year. It’s been a reclusive few months. Thinking about it, that if I’d been more in practice, I wouldn’t have not seen anybody in a year and the whole thing might have been less overwhelming – so clearly that’s the way forward – but as it was it was a buzzing noisy crowded room full of millions of people all talking – all talking to me – all at once, and after about half an hour I was feeling a bit dizzy. Phew! Time to get in practice, it’s the awards-&-readings season coming up.
I’ve changed my hair. It was so long ago I’d forgotten it but yes, it’s changed! Gone lighter darling. Had to be done. The colour builds up something crazy with the dark brown, it was getting a bit hard, a bit severe. And yes, it’s shorter. I was getting fed up. I’ve hacked away at it in front of the bathroom mirror. You can do these things in life. So we’ve established that. We’ve all caught the sun, at least a little bit, and everyone looks unusually healthy for a Londoner.
Anyway, it was a fantastic day. I met and saw and chatted to and covered stands for and looked at books from and was given books by and gave directions to and otherwise caught up with something that felt almost like the whole poetry world. There were some people not there. Friends. Poets. Presses. Big presses. Some publishers were otherwise engaged, but Penned in the Margins was present with distributors Inpress, and Bloodaxe shared a giant table with Faber and Carcanet… It was so crowded in there, I think there might be an aisle I never even made it down!
Rack Press even did a break-out reading – the Free Verse Fringe – in Red Lion Square. I didn’t read, I was feeling too dizzy and a bit unequal to the park, but I listened to the readings and it lovely. And went to the pub, which is f course the most poet-y thing of all to do, and sank into a banquette with a sigh, and felt guilty. There were too many people in there I’d said I’d catch up with in a minute.
And there are so many books, pamphlets, signs of life and shoots of growth. I came back with a little pile of very interesting poetry, some good ideas for future contacts and projects, a couple of new acquaintances, a few business cards, and at least one conversation that’s only half-finished – and that’s always a good sign.
Now I just need to find out how to keep some colour on the balcony over the next six or eight months.
Many thanks once again to the indefatigable Charles Boyle and Chrissy Williams for organising this warming and invigorating portal into the autumn!