This week I have been to three poetry events. Tuesday night was a reading at the Wordsworth Trust with Mike Barlow and Mimi Khalvati. Mike was his usual fabulous self and Mimi’s reading was exceptional. Mimi was warm and generous with her introductions and hearing her read the ghazals from her recent book ‘Child: New and Selected Poems’ was great. I’ve never really understood ghazals before – I didn’t get why they were necessary – which sounds really rude, but having heard the music of them it was like something clicked in my brain and I am now a fan. It even made me want to write one, although I haven’t yet. I’ve been too busy flitting about the North West. I have written a review of Mimi’s book which can be found on www.thecadaverine.co.uk under the Non-Fiction tab.
On Wednesday I went to the launch of ‘Lung Jazz – the Oxfam Anthology of Young British Poets’. Young was defined by the editors as anyone born after 1970, so I was well within the age limits! There are 160 ish poems by 160 different poets, one for each poet. At the reading, each poet read their poem from the anthology and then one other poem. There were about fifteen readers, which sounds like a nightmare, but because everyone was reading for only five minutes it seemed to go really quickly, and the quality of the poetry was outstanding.
My favourite poet of the night? Probably Ryan Van Winkle, who I think is a Salt poet. I think I might order his collection – the two poems he read were fantastic. I would recommend the anthology, not only because it has some very good poetry in, but also because all the profits go to Oxfam. The two presses that have published the anthology, Eyewear and Cinnamon Press have done so out of the goodness of their hearts. You can buy the book here http://www.cinnamonpress.com/lung-jazz/
The link to Eyewear, an interesting blog by Todd Swift is here http://toddswift.blogspot.co.uk/ who has now also set up an independent press of the same name, which is well worth checking out.
Then it was the last train back to Barrow, which got me in at half past midnight.
Then yesterday I drove to Preston. I didn’t check the start times of Word Soup until I got there, which was slightly silly and I arrived at 6.30pm to find out it started at 8pm, so I took myself off to a Chinese restaurant near by. I don’t know the name of it but I intend to go back there. It was amazing. It’s like an all you can eat buffet except you order the dishes you want and they bring it out to you. I only wanted sweet and sour chicken (my favourite) but the waiter seemed appalled that I wouldn’t get my £13.50 worth of food, and proceeded to bring out duck (which he cut for me – very considerate) pancakes, salad and then the sweet and sour chicken. I’m not a big eater – lots of food normally puts me off – but this food was so nice I scoffed lots, and then had to keep my trousers undone through the first half of the reading (concealed underneath my top of course!)
Word Soup: Womanhood was great – I got to see the lovely Ann Wilson, a Barrow poet who now lives in Kendal and Sarah Miller, who also used to live in Barrow and now lives in Manchester and Vicki Ellis did a great job of organising it all. I also managed to sell five pamphlets, which was nice.
I got back after midnight last night as well though, and it was only Bruce Springstein’s Born to Run on repeat that kept me awake. I love that song.
On the subject of sales, it is great fun having something to sell. I’ve never had anything tangible to sell and I’m quite enjoying the exchange of goods for money. I saw a post today on Facebook from Chris Hamilton Emery of Salt saying he had sold 220 copies of his new collection and it started me wondering what the average numbe of sales is for a pamphlet. I vaguely remember having a conversation with someone who said that 200 is considered good sales for a pamphlet – maybe there will be some editors reading this who can answer this question. I’d be interested to know how the sales of a pamphlet and a first collection differ as well.
Anyway, I’ve decided to keep close tabs on how many I sell, because I find it interesting. I would have been interested to read about someone’s experience of selling their pamphlet as well before I had one, so maybe someone else will like it too. So to date, I’ve personally sold 49 (I don’t know how many Peter and Ann have sold through The Poetry Business website – I might ask them) and I’ve given away 15. Four of those were to my dad who said he was going to threaten his scaffolder colleagues and make them buy one…so I may get some money for those. It’s quite funny thinking of my dad selling poetry books actually. You’d know what I mean if you knew him.
Anyway, I’ll let you all know when I get to 100. Anybody else want to add statistics of how their sales are going, I’d be really interested. Just because I’m nosy really. And if anyone does want to buy a pamphlet, message me and I’ll send you my address, and you can send me a whole five pounds and your address, and I’ll send you a pamphlet. I’ll even write you a nice letter to go with it. I bought some Basildon Bond specially for the job!