Tonight is, of course, Burns Night, and while I have no Scottish ancestry that I'm aware of, I'm all for anything that involves the national celebration of a poet, along with the eating of haggis (you can keep the neeps) and the drinking of a single malt or two.
Following on from the big night this year, there's an event taking place in Dumfries this Friday and Saturday, from 7.30pm-11pm, called First Foot @ The Stove. It includes an international art project, conceived and curated by Hugh Bryden and David Borthwick, called Windows On Burns Night. A whole host of poets wrote a piece of their work onto clear plastic, to be displayed on windows around the town. There are more details on it here.
My own poem, Prayer, appears at The Globe. I doubt if I'll be able to get up to Dumfries anytime soon, but I'm proud to have been involved in this project.
Funnily enough, at Monday night's Shindig in Leicester, Burns made a wholly unscheduled appearance. I've talked before about how little themes seem to emerge at each reading, and in the first half of Monday's, mice kept cropping up, especially in John Lucas's fine spot. He read at least as many poems by other people as his own, but it worked extremely well. Jane Commane of Nine Arches Press then challenged someone to read Burns' To A Mouse in the second half. I assumed that the gauntlet would remain on the ground, but Nick Leach took it up magnificently, reading the poem absolutely superbly.
The rest of the night saw great readings from Helen Calcutt and Jessica Mayhew (sadly, Phil Brown couldn't make it), and the usual excellent mix of open mic slots, including a couple of collborations.
Last night, I was reading at Poetry Bites, of which much more later in the week. In the meantime, I'm going to be having a quiet night of it, with a book or two and a large glass of Caol Ila. Here's to Rabbie...