So when you have thanked Anne-Marie, how do you say ‘thank you’ and who else do you thank for such an amazing night of poetry, music and good company?
Magical from the start because wonderful CLAIRE DYER ( new collection Interference Effects from Two Rivers launched five days ago ) came early, and brought me up to date over supper with her ongoing career as a multi-tasking writer.
WENDY KLEIN was there celebrating her birthday and I was able to thank her for reviewing Safe Passage so thoughtfully in online journal ‘High Window’ earlier in the year. Wendy’s new collection came out from Oversteps this year and I had the great pleasure of sharing the Oversteps line-up with her at Dartington in July. Wendy will be reading at the Troubadour in January, on yet another of Anne-Marie Fyfe’s must-be-there Monday nights.
Next delight, downstairs, to find that DOM BURY – whose poems I had admired so much at The Hurst on an Arvon course with Michael Longley and Sinead Morrissey – O LUCKY LUCKY US!!! – was running the book table. Thanks to Dom, Safe Passage sold out which, of course, sends any poet out into the Earls Court rain on a very special end-of-evening high.
Finding a seat for the evening, there were JOHN and SUE GODFREY from Ware Poets, long-standing Torbay friends. By now it cannot be a secret that John has a poem on this year’s brilliant Torbay Competition Shortlist, which launches this Saturday afternoon at the Torbay Festival. I spent many admiring hours this August with the shortlist submissions and had several uncomfortable times feeling that I was about to promote a friend. (There was a very delightful poem about a bat which I suspected had the familiarly vivid, quirky, articulate Godfrey touch. But it had been written by someone else – I remained in the dark about John’s poem until very much later on.) Ware Poets are a marvellously receptive and enquiring audience and it is a joy to read with them. I have just been invited back in on February 3rd next year, largely as a result of having Monday night’s opportunity to promote Safe Passage at the Troubadour. Another ‘thank you’ – but still this is not the end…..
WENDY FRENCH was in the audience. So was LESLEY SAUNDERS whose intricate, intriguing, erudite and rigorously lateral poems hold her many Bath admirers in total thrall. And after many years, I had the huge pleasure of meeting MARIANNE BURTON again, another rediscovered friend from an Arvon Course at The Hurst.
And, as RS Thomas said, in a very much bleaker mood: that was only on one island….
So what did I choose to read at the Troubadour, and why? Here is the little list….
A LEISURE CENTRE IS ALSO A TEMPLE OF LEARNING for the 7,500 A level students and teachers who have visited the honey-coloured girl on other pages of this blog in a quest for answers the poem cannot give… and to thank Forward for deciding it was one of their Poems of the Decade.
PAVAROTTI AT THE GROSVENOR HOUSE HOTEL for anyone who has ever fallen under a musician’s spell….
VIEWS FROM THE BRIDGE for anyone who has ever known that they were loved….
TOGETHER WE GET THE NEWS FROM ONCOLOGY for REBECCA GETHIN who mentions it, and writes so generously about Safe Passage on her wonderful blog…
THINKING ABOUT THE SWANS for Wendy French, who gave it a place on her shortlist when she was Judge for the Torbay Festival…
THE VISITOR because it is Devon poet LUCINDA CAREY’S favourite poem in Safe Passage and also for the ghost who inspired those few lines and returns to hear them whenever and wherever they are read…