Skip to main content

the poetry book fair

Free Verse 2012 took place yesterday - the second year of the UK's biggest fair for small press publishers of poetry, lottery funded and organised by the great Charles Boyle.  It featured readings by Roddy Lumsden, Glyn Maxwell, and Jo Brandon, among many others.  And dozens of tables set up by presses small and larger, from Picador, Seren and Penned In The Margins, to Shearsman, Valley Press, Pighog, and our own Eyewear.  Salt and Faber and Bloodaxe gave it a miss.  The general buzz was wonderful - 7 hours of browsing and sharing, and interest in books.  We sold around 15 books, which is a bit slow, but good for us, as we met hundreds of poets and poetry readers, and were able to spread the word about forthcoming collections.  A few noteworthy negatives in a very positive day: one publisher when handed a free copy of our first publication waved it away, sneering he had no time for it.  Or there was the unbelievably grumpy, bearded, portly, old man stooped behind his desk, who, when I introduced myself, scowled and said - "you're the Kingston man, never done a damn thing for me."  He then went on a bitter tirade about how Eyewear had never reviewed his collections.  It's true, I never have - but he only sent me a few review copies, and no one ever wanted to review them: they are by relatively beginner poets for the most part.  He then said he had been publishing for 11 years and was fed up - no one wanted to buy his books.  Well, judging from his stance, no wonder.  He never walked among the other tables, or tried to swap or buy fellow publisher's books, or once smiled.  He seemed unto himself.  I can understand such an embattled feeling - being a small press publisher can feel isolating.  And sales are very slow.  And it is hard to get reviews.  But I am hardly to blame for the fortunes of his press.  A third type that emerges at such events is the poet who comes up, shows no interest in your book or books, and then takes your card.  He or she then emails the next day, with a long letter explaining why you need to publish them instantly.  In the poetry world, we know that there is more vanity than interest in poetry among some would-be-published (usually amateur) poets - people who don't understand that you need to engage with a publisher's catalogue of published poets before approaching them with a manuscript that is about 100 years behind the times and is utterly ego-driven.  I loved Free Verse, for it was inspiring, and showed there is a viable British community of publishers and poets who support each other.

Popular posts from this blog


According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…


Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…


The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…