Monday, 12 December 2011


On 10th December I attended the launch of HappenStance publications by Peter Gilmour and Gerry Cambridge in Edinburgh. Over 60 people attended, amongst them Rob MacKenzie and Colin Will. Though I arrived from Cambridge I wasn't the one who'd travelled furthest. I'd had trouble understanding people's accents so I was relieved that the readers spoke so well. Peter Gilmour (whose poems were described as having "lovely syntax" by the emcee, Helena Nelson) read mellifluously with interesting comments (for example, he suggested that mining the past to write a poem reveals memories that couldn't otherwise be recovered). I knew Gerry Cambridge as editor of the excellent "The Dark Horse" magazine ("it's an honour to be rejected by The Dark Horse", said Helena Nelson) but not as a poet. He said he was interested in Nature and Detail. Both readers seemed to know what an audience wanted and what they could cope with.
Edinburgh of course is associated with some famous writers. Conan Doyle worked in Portsmouth, my birthplace, after having been a medical student at Edinburgh, and JK Rowling started writing Harry Potter in Edinburgh. I explored Edinburgh, its vennels and wynds, finding some traditional little bookshops ("Edinburgh Books" and "Southside books" are illustrated here) amongst the impressive, imposing architecture. If you like traditional Christmas atmospheres - city centre fairgrounds, German markets, and snow - Edinburgh's the place to go. I explored the delights of Ratho Station too. I took "The Best American Short Stories 2010" with me to read - well crafted Realism without a hint of Barthelme, with at least half the stories featuring a death. I jotted a page or 2 of notes and started a story, so I'm happy.
The Scottish Poetry Library, just off the Royal Mile, was the venue for the launches. It compares well with the London counterpart. I picked up a copy of Northwords Now there, which is a good read. The Scottish Storytelling Centre is 5 years old - "the world's first purpose-built centre for storytelling". I think I'll be popping up to Edinburgh more regularly in future. An East Coast train trip's especially tempting.
You'll find more about the event on Helena Nelson's HappenStance blog.

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