Poetry Book Fair


Yesterday was a wonderful poetic day in London. The Poetry Book Fair, masterminded by Charles Boyle, put on a great show at Conway Hall. There were dozens of poetry presses there with their books – from Bloodaxe and Picador to the tiny hand-made publishers. I got to talk to a few of the ones in between; Kirsten Irving & John Stone from Fuselit, Todd Swift from Eyewear, Helena Nelson from HappenStance, Maria McCarthy from Cultured Llama, and Karen Mosman from Two Rivers Press.

But the biggest shout out has to go to Adele Ward and Mike Fortune-Wood at Ward Wood, who have a decent number of other poetry books on their list, but kindly donated their half-hour reading slot to four of us from the Royal Holloway MA course. Ward Wood publishes the “Bedford Square” anthology of new writing from the course every year. It was a delight to share the stage with Sarah Nesbitt (and baby), Caroline Squire and Lavinia Singer. Also great to see such a lovely, and quite distinguished, audience at our reading.

And then in the evening, we decamped a few yards up the road to the Square Pig and Pen pub, where the readings continued.

As for the poets; well Hilda Sheehan and Bethany Pope were among the Cultured Llama readers. Christopher James was excellent for Arc Publishing, and do look out for Penny Boxall‘s book from Eyewear which is due out next February. What I liked about James and Boxall in particular was the quirky range of subjects they tackled. James on the Age of Hats was great, and Boxall, on three shipwrecked sailors who were all called Hugh Williams, inspired. They both get my WIST (Wish I’d Said That) award.

There are pictures on the Poetry Book Fair site of the rows of poetry book stalls and of some of the readers., proving that poetry publishing is lively, healthy and diverse. The photo above is one that Charles Boyle might not have known about; there was a Book Fair Fringe going on, in the cafe in Red Lion Square, just outside the venue. This is Nicholas Murray, reading from his collection from Melos; “Of Earth, Water, Air and Fire – animal poems”.

I WISH there were at least two of these events every year!