‘So Glad I’m Me’ at the Betsey: so glad I went!

‘Home Sweet Home’

So, last Sunday. A celebration (rather than a ‘launch’, as it’s already been out for a while, and there were very few copies for sale on the day) of Roddy Lumsden’s new collection, So Glad I’m Me. I will be writing more about this book in due course, as it’s shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, but for now, let’s celebrate the celebration.

First, the book we were celebrating. Roddy’s tenth collection, and incidentally the only poetry collection I’ve ever seen with a picture of Sandy Denny on the cover. I love this cover in about ten different ways, probably. (There was a sweet moment when the music suddenly got switched on rather loudly behind the bar, by accident, and Roddy just looked up mildly and said, ‘Oh, is that Sandy Denny? Can we have the music off for now?’) I am still waiting for my copy, so haven’t actually seen inside it yet, but as I say, it will be covered in due course.

The event had been organised without much notice, so the pub was full but not rammed – and had opened specially for us, at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon. The atmosphere was intimate, almost like family; well, this is my poetry family, I guess. It’s nice when you realise you have one. (There were people missing, including even two who were meant to be reading: illness, geography, prior commitments, etc took their toll – & they are why I recorded  the reading.) And if there’s a family home, it’s the Betsey, as demonstrated by the special opening… It was good to be there. (N.b., the next gathering of that sort of clan will probably be Tim Wells’ Christmas All-Dayer, which will probably be on 17 Dec.)

Guest readers Fran Lock, Becky Varley-Winter, Angela Kirby, Barbara Barnes, Samuel Prince, Mark Waldron, and Sarah Howe all read a poem each by Roddy as well as some of their own. They were followed by Roddy, who gave a brilliant reading, and disappeared into the night shortly afterwards. This photographic account is thin; my phone had run dead due to a charger malfunction at home, and had to be charged behind the bar so I could do the filming at the crucial moment. But I did film him, in two goes, which are at the bottom of this post. Here’s the audience, with Mr Lumsden in the foreground watching the readings.

Sarah Howe reading, with Roddy and Fran Lock watching.

The mirror: featuring Matthew Caley, Jon Stone, Tom Bland, Richard O’Brien, etc

And the videos.

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