Well, despite my fears that the miserable weather and the attractions of late-night shopping would keep people away, there was a really good turnout at last night's reading at the Friends Meeting House, on Queen's Road in Leicester. Several familiar faces, from Leicester Poetry Society and elsewhere, including HappenStance poets DA Prince and Marilyn Ricci.
Jane Commane kicked things off, but unfortunately I missed most of her set. Matt Nunn, one of the other poets reading, had got lost on one of the more unfathomable bits of Leicester's road system, so I had to try to guide him in on the mobile. The audience response was very good, though, and her poems in Under The Radar 2, which was being launched, are really excellent.
I read next, and thoroughly enjoyed myself, which is always a good sign. I tried a couple of new, or at least new-ish poems, and they seemed to go down well, which was encouraging.
After the interval, we had an open mic slot, and very possibly the performance of the night came from a Nottingham poet called Chris (I've forgotten his surname, stupidly - drop me a line if you read this, Chris!), who read from memory and was absolutely electrifying. Several people afterwards said just how much they had enjoyed his reading, and I hope I'll be seeing him again round Leicester or Nottingham soon. There was Mark Goodwin, who's been published by Shearsman and whose work I've enjoyed in a number of magazines over the years; Caroline Cook, another small press mag stalwart and whose poem Sex With Larkin proved popular; and Colin Derrick, who bravely read his first-ever poems, very well.
Matt had arrived by then, and a good thing too. He's very, very funny, and yet at the same time always utterly serious. There's anger and poignancy in there too, and his delivery is, I think, spot-on. He's got a new collection coming out next year - keep an eye out for it.
Finally, Jane Holland read from her new Salt collection, Camper Van Blues, plus one poem from On Warwick. It was a good way to round things off, because CVB seemed to touch on quite a few strands that other poets had brushed up against earlier in the evening. And everybody seemed to go home pleased with what they'd seen and heard, so I hope it will be the first of a series of similar events. I've spent most of today writing for work and watching England surprise everyone in Chennai, but I'll get moving with organising a follow-up ASAP.
Oh, and of course, here's the set-list:
The Meeting Place
Scorpio Over La Selva
Things Left In Hotel Rooms
At Gedney Hill
The Memory Of Water
Raining, Craswall, Evening