Monday, 10 October 2011

Underneath the arches

Saturday saw the first States of Independence (west), at Eastside Projects, Digbeth, Birmingham, just along the street from the Custard Factory, as it turned out. Appropriately, given that the viaduct above towered over the venue, the Nine Arches Press stall was the first thing to meet my eyes as I entered, but as with the previous SoI events, at De Montfort University in Leicester, plenty of small presses were present.

I heard Geraldine Monk's excellent and energetic reading from her recent Leafe Press book, Lobe Scarps & Finials*, which lit up the rather murkily-lit reading space, and Jim Caruth's understated but quietly resonant poetry. I heard him a few years back, at the the Derwent Poetry Festival, and enjoyed his debut collection A Stone's Throw, so it was nice to catch up with what he'd done since.

In between times, I ate cake (of course), and spent some money. Longbarrow Press's anthology of readings by poets including Matthew Clegg, Kelvin Corcoran, Jim Caruth, Rob Hindle, Mark Goodwin and Lee Harwood grabbed my attention (very good it is, too), and I also bought Lee Harwood's The Books, a mini-chapbook/CD combo, also from Longbarrow. Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving of Sidekick Books were also there, and I bought their Confronting The Danger Of Art, by Ian McLachlan and Phil Cooper. I got it for my sister, but she might have to wait now until I buy a second copy. It comes complete with a badge, you see, and I can't tell you how much I like that.

It was good to chat with Robin Vaughan-Williams, who was manning the HappenStance stand as tirelessly as ever, and with another HappenStancer, Gregory Leadbetter, as well as with John Lucas, of Shoestring Press (a couple of his titles, and a couple on the Five Leaves Press table next door, really caught the eye, but will have to wait until next payday), Alan Baker of Leafe Press, Geraldine Monk, and last but not least, Salt poet Cliff Yates, whose fine collection Frank Freeman's Dancing School I enjoyed earlier in the year.**

* I was going to post a full review of the collection on here, but I'll be writing a review for the next issue of Under The Radar instead.
** If you're reading Cliff, sorry I didn't catch up with you again later. We got cut off mid-discussion and I had to scoot rather too fast. If I can remember what it was I was just about to say, I'll email you.


Alan Baker said...

It was good to see you Matt - sorry we didn't get the chance to have more of a chat. I'm hoping to get to the Leicester shindig, so see you then I hope. It was a good day on Saturday - we sold quite a few copies of Geraldine's book. And as you say, the socialising is the best bit about these events. Cheers, Alan.

Matt Merritt said...

Yes, I'll certainly be at the Shindig. Glad the book sold well - the reading was absolutely brilliant.