The last time I read at the Heart Cafe in Leeds was the 25th May 2012. I know this date without having to look in my diary because it was the day before the official launch of my pamphlet in Grasmere at the Wordsworth Trust. Peter and Ann (lovely editors) managed to get a box of my pamphlets up to the Heart Cafe, and they were waiting for when I arrived. David Tait had appointed himself my book seller and had already sold some by the time I got there, frazzled and slightly stressed from being stuck in traffic for four hours.
The lovely Peter White was the first person to see the pamphlet and came up to get it signed as soon as I sat down, and I don’t think I will ever forget that lovely feeling, of finally believing that they existed.
So I’m quite fond of the Heart Cafe for these reasons alone and that’s discounting the fact that it is a really nice venue to read in.
So last night I was there again, reading alongside George Szirtes which I was really excited about, and the hubby and I got back at about 1am so we’ve had a bit of a lie in, but I’ve woken up with my head buzzing full of poetry thoughts. This is unfortunate as today I have to get everything ready for the South Cumbria Music Festival tomorrow and plan a poetry workshop on ‘Rivers’ for Monday, which is why I didn’t stay over in Harrogate with lovely David Thom and Sam as planned – I knew I’d need the whole of Saturday to get myself sorted, and didn’t really want to go rushing off on Saturday morning.
It was a really wonderful night. George Szirtes read from his older books in the first half. The range of his subject matter is humbling and there is something quite captivating about the way that he reads. Normally I find it hard to concentrate before I’ve read but I was completely hooked.
One of George’s old tutors, Doug Sandle introduced him which was a lovely way to start the evening. He read two fine poems in memorium to Martin Bell and Ken Smith.
I don’t want to gush too much about George Szirtes – for one, it’s a bit creepy – but I think he is really excellent. I like the rhythm and obsessiveness of his writing, I like the sharp intellect and wit that underpins his poetry and I think (although I’ve only met him once) that he seems a true gentleman – by this I mean someone who is unfailingly generous, highly intelligent and this is the best bit – utterly passionate about poetry, and language.
Anyway, that was a bit of a gush but never mind. George Szirtes SOLD OUT of his books last ngiht. How often does that happen at a poetry reading! There were no more copies of his new book ‘Bad Machine’ left . I already had one because I’m a member of the Poetry Book Society and it is their Choice for this quarter which means I get it for free, but I cannot recommend it enough and you should go and order it from Bloodaxe immediately! (www.bloodaxebooks.com)
The lovely Ian Duhig was in the audience as well along with the equally lovely Zaffar Kunial – it was nice to see them and the fact that they looked like they were enjoying my set made me less nervous…and thanks to Headingley LitFest for putting a stonking evening on and Richard Wilcocks in particular for inviting me along.
So now I need to stop gushing and start getting spare music ready, photocopying, going through my list and making sure I’ve got everything. The Sunday poem will appear tomorrow evening along with an update about the Music Festival – whether you want that bit or not!