Quite a bit of bardic business this week. On Wednesday I did a Telltale and Friends reading with Martin Mallone a top poet who also edits The Interpreter’s House and finished the evening by accidentally setting his poetry file on fire. He is currently writing about the first world war, and there was some laughter as he remarked about his incendiary work as the room filled with the smell of burnt plastic. With Martin was Helen Fletcher who travelled down from Carlisle and gave us beautifully-read deft and delicate work. While Siegfried Baber stepped in at the last moment to cover for a poet who couldn’t make it. He is the next Telltale Poet, and will be launching his collection When love came to the cartoon kid shortly in Bath. In his mid-twenties, Siegfried’s work is fresh, and assured beyond his years. I can only guess at what heights he will reach poetically.
The night was hosted by Robin Houghton, and the Lewes Arms was a really cheery venue. Catherine Smith told me a while ago, that if you throw a stone in Lewes you will hit a writer. The audience was filled with some dauntingly excellent poets, not least Catherine herself. My nerves not helped by making the schoolboy error of reading out a brand new poem. It was about the The Brontës and foxes, and was supposed to be funny, but was heard in pin-drop silence.
Then, a bit panicked, I performed an old poem of mine called Someone-else’s patch, which is a monologue of someone who is paranoid about having a double. It was originally published in the sadly now-defunct Iron, which was for some time my favourite magazine. I teed it up by saying that it was written by the younger, better-looking slimmer Peter Kenny and I have suspicions about him, playing with the double idea. I did it from memory, having relearned it last week. Robin has been thinking about memorising her work, and she wrote about it here in her blog. I’d forgotten how freeing not having to read your work out can be.
And talking of blogs, Roy Marshall who, like Robin, as well as being a highly-regarded poet has an extremely well-regarded blog to boot. Flatteringly enough, he did a post featuring me. And in Roy’s next post he featured Siegfried.
Today (Sunday 19th April) I have a poem Hooked on the Ink Sweat and Tears site. Really chuffed by this, as Helen Ivory manages to round up some amazing work. It was written ruefully recalling how I spent many childhood summers slaughtering as many fish as I could, and this poem is a kind of atonement. By coincidence, I have a poem on the Guernsey Poets website today, called A Glasshouse, also written about Guernsey.