It's not often you get the opportunity to wallow in poetry for three days, listening to it, reading it, talking to other poets, but that's what I've just had. The Derwent Poetry Festival is small as festivals go but intimate in a way that some of the bigger ones aren't.
Templar have a reputation for producing beautiful books and, as one of the three winning Straid poets, I was very pleased with the look of mine - as were Martin Malone and Susanne Ehrhardt with theirs. I'd met Martin before, but it was the first time I'd met Sue, who is a doctor and has worked for Oxfam in a number of third world countries and is a very good poet and really interesting person. Martin's also had a pretty diverse life, working as a rock musician, sound engineer and teacher, in Saudi Arabia and finally in Cumbria. He currently plays in Simon Armitage's band, Scaremongers and works as a special needs teacher.
Also reading at the festival were Jane Weir, talking about Walking the Block, her biography in poetry and image of the textile artists Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher. Another poet new to me was Christopher James whose pamphlet The Manly Art of Knitting was also being launched.
Stayed in a lovely B and B in Matlock Bath - B & Bs aren't what they used to be - mine was furnished and kitted out like a five star hotel - everything you might possibly wish for from a mini-bar to a tooth-brush (and it turned out to have free wi-fi too!). And towels twisted into swans on the bed and the most amazing display of fresh fruit for breakfast. Not to mention the fact that the owner rescued me from a disaster with public transport and drove me to the poetry festival. There are still nice people in the world. Thank you Roger!
Now back at the Mill for a few days before going off to do some research in Manchester for a new book proposal. It's colder than Italy and very misty, grey and autumnal. I miss the light.