Last Saturday it was the long-awaited Bloodaxe Day, organised by the indefatigable Sue Boyle as part of the Bath Poetry Café. In the morning we had an interesting and informative lecture by Neil Astley, founder of Bloodaxe Books and editor of that fine trilogy of poetry anthologies, 'Staying Alive', 'Being Alive' and 'Being Human', on how to get our poetry published. After lunch with my lovely friend Helen - and a quick pop into Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights where the nice man at the till readily relieved me of one of my packs containing my poetry collection, 'Communion' - I had a lovely afternoon reading with my peers, again in the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. I have to say that the quality of the poetry on offer in the Café just gets higher and higher. In the evening we were treated to a reading by Neil Astley and Sara-Jane Arbury of poems selected from 'Being Human'. I drove back to Bristol crackling with energy and inspiration.
It was over to Bath again today with my friend and fellow-poet, Pameli Benham, to visit the artists Malcolm Ashman and Ben Hughes in Bath Artists Studios in Comfortable Place. (Can't help wondering about the etymology of that pleasingly named backwater!) Our excursion was our entry into a project called Portraitswest, in which the artists will draw and exhibit portraits of local poets and the poets will respond with words, culminating (for now) in an evening of art and poetry in Bath in November. I had a great time fossicking around Malcolm and Ben's studios, asking them about their work and taking a few quick photos, and trying to sit very still and look intelligent and not too fat while they drew me. Have lots of ideas already about what to write and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into it. To add the icing to my delicious cake of a day, staff in Bath's other equally delightful independent bookshop, Toppings, also took a copy of Communion to put on sale, and when I popped into Durdham Down Bookshop in Bristol to pick up my World Book Night books and press a pack on them, I was told - quite casually - that there was no need because they already had it in stock!
And things look set to get even better. The spring forerunner of the Bristol Poetry Festival is on, and I have tickets to see Paul Durcan, Ian Duhig, Carol Rumens, Sasha Dugdale and the marvellous Pameli Benham over the next couple of weeks, not to mention a special Olympic-themed Acoustic Night Bristol on World Book Night at which I'll be giving away my free copies of Kazuo Ishiguro's 'The Remains of the Day'. Such a stunning book! (And no, I shan't be reading poems about my burning desire to participate in Synchronised Swimming or even my ex-husband being for the high jump - rather, I shall be erring on the side of Greek gods and the Oracle and so on.)
I also have a free workshop with the wonderful Polly Moyer to look forward to, the reading of my poem, 'Kin', at the launch of Geraldine Taylor and Dru Marland's latest collaboration, 'The Secret Blackbird', and - well, just loads more lovely stuff.
Having become, in his words, 'caught up in my hair', the lovely Malcolm Ashman was planning on finishing his drawing of me this afternoon. Here's how it looks so far: