London was in a state of heightened awareness - the day before there were the Boston bombs, and it was the eve of Thatcher's funeral. What's more, London Book Fair was at Earl's Court. I day-tripped for the launch of HappenStance pamphlets by Chrissy Williams and Fiona Moore. Making the most of the day I went down early. I popped into Foyles, which has a useful range of magazines and anthologies (I bought "Structo 9"), popped into the Poetry Library to do some research (D A Prince, in London for the same launch, had beaten me to it) and visited 2 places for the first time - Brixton (why not?) and Stratford. I walked through the Westfield shopping centre to see the Olympic Park, then desperate for some real shops, went back over the train tracks only to find another shopping centre.
So much for the state of the nation, what about the state of British poetry? By the time I'd walked to the Crown Tavern past the side streets of parked police vans and stacked barricades, poets had overflowed onto the street. I think I saw Jon Stone, Kirsten Irving, Roddy Lumsden, and Simon Barraclough. In the packed room upstairs I talked to Paul Stephenson about getting a collection published. I wonder how much it matters nowadays. He's already much published in magazines and had 9 poems in the "Adventures in Form" anthology.
Chrissie Williams (on the left in the photo) had 4 poems in that anthology too, including "The Lost" which she read in front of a gold-framed mirror (a common back-drop for venues I've recently been to). I found her introductions (to "Green Lake" for example) useful, and her reading introduced me to a different way to access her poetry. When it clicks for me it's striking.
Re Adventures in Form I feel I'm between the 2 poets, having experimented with some Oulipo-ish forms, but having reservations about some other forms. In the main I felt more aligned with Fiona Moore's work. By chance, she and I share a non-poet friend who we've known for decades. Like Chrissie Williams she's been in many magazines and lives in London, but their poetry has little in common. Readers of her Displacement blog won't be surprised by the depth and thoughtfulness of the poems.
I think twin launches like this are an excellent idea, the poets and pamphlets being mutually supportive. John Field's already reviewed Flying into the Bear and the only reason for time. From what he says, you should be buying the pamphlets as soon as possible while supplies last. Try the Happenstance shop.