Monday 9 September 2013

Poetry Events ~ (Workshop at) Free Verse Poetry Book Fair, London

So what was this all about? To be revealed ...

We visited the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square in Bloomsbury on Saturday. It was good to be welcomed by poetry advocates like Chrissy Williams from the Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre. There was a huge buzz in the hall as publishers and poets jostled their way around the benches of books, pamphlets, chapbooks, magazines, postcards, badges (I couldn't resist an Adlestrop one), free cloth bags and roller stands. Poetry came in all shapes and sizes, and its representatives flocked from Devon, Berkshire, Northumberland, New York and beyond to share publications and ideas.

The Poetry Book Fair website describes the event as ...

'an all-day bazaar, market, library, meeting place, performance venue, information resource and more. Celebrating the vitality of contemporary poetry in the UK, publishers both large and small, both experimental and traditional, display and sell their work direct to the public,'

... and I, for one, am so glad that I was able to go along to experience the vibrant atmosphere for myself.

It was lovely to find familiar faces among the throng and it was also a great opportunity for meeting new people in the poetry world. So who was represented? You will find a long list of publishers large and small on the right hand side of this page. I suspect there was something for everyone. There were plenty of items for sale ... and the distinctive blue and orange Poetry School cloth bag proved the perfect receptacle for our purchases.

Inevitably the artwork on book covers or postcards caught my eye as I went up and down the aisles. This was particularly the case when it came to Two Rivers Press, and you can see some of the stunning designs here. I had not heard of this Reading-based publishing house before, and can easily see why it has been described as ‘one of the most characterful small presses in the country.’ I particularly enjoyed talking to the stall holders.

So ... why the fox-free poster? I signed up for a workshop at the Book Fair, laid on by the Poetry School and led by Simon Barraclough (standing in for Isobel Dixon) on the intriguing zoological and mythological subject of 'The Twilight of the Iguana'. Ted Hughes, of course, was mentioned - but I think we all succeeded in finding subjects other than the banned animal in the poster for our workshop muse.

Simon Barraclough leads the Poetry School workshop
Eels, tadpoles, a baby rabbit, an owl, an armadillo, (plenty of) pigs and mice were just a few of the creatures that slithered, scuttled or soared before our eyes during the course of an exhilarating two hour session. We considered poems by Elizabeth Bishop and others - and tried to respond to the vast 'bestiary' theme in our own words. Thank you, Simon and the Poetry School, for a terrific workshop. Thank you to all the organisers of Free Verse for a great day.


Naquillity said...

so wishing i could have been there browsing with you... this sounds like a great venue. looks like several showed up for the event too. hope all is well.

steve joj said...

very nice ! I was looking for an alternative online bookfair company in Virginia and was told during one of our library meetings Bookworm Central is the best when it comes to the services they offer. When I called to inquire, I was greeted warmly and had all of my questions answered by a well informed staff member. Setting up the online bookfair was easy and we had great success. I can’t wait to do my first onsite bookfair with them in the fall.”