Last night I dashed down the M42 to read at The Fizz 8, at Polesworth Abbey Refectory, in North Warwickshire.
As I noted in the preview pieces about the event, it was a particular thrill to be reading in Michael Drayton's hometown. In fact, both Drayton and John Donne are thought to have read in front of the same fireplace (pictured above) that's now part of the Refectory, and Shakespeare is rumoured to have spent time as a page at nearby Polesworth Hall. The chair that's pictured, by the way, isn't an Elizabethan torture instrument - it was built by one of last night's poets for use while he's playing the guitar.
In keeping with the setting, I tied to give my set a bit of a historical slant, and all went very well (except for a coughing fit in the middle of Troy Town - fortunately it's short enough to start again). There were excellent and varied open mic readers, including Barry Patterson (pictured) and Gary Longden - nice to catch up with both of them again - and Mal Dewhirst, the driving force behind Fizz and Polesworth's poetry trails.
My set (divided in two by the interval) was:
Prelude for Glass Harmonica
The sea at Ashby-de-la-Zouch
Drinking With Godberd
Dreams From The Anchor Church
Leland's New Year Gift To The King, 1546
The Meeting Place
In St Martin's Square
West Leicester Lullaby
Fantasia for Glass Harmonica
The American version
Worst Case Scenario
Nocturne for Glass Harmonica
If you're ever in the area, Polesworth's well worth a look. As well as the Abbey Church and its 14th century gatehouse (below), there's the Polesworth Poets Trail I mentioned. Also, despite the fact that you're a stone's throw from the motorway, Tamworth, and the great sprawl of Birmingham beyond it, there's a lot of remarkably unspoiled countryside within walking distance.