For the first time at the London Book Fair there was a Poetry Pavilion. It seems scandalous that one of the world's biggest book events has not had a dedicated poetry slot until now. For quite a few years the big publishers, who dominate book fairs, have not been publishing poetry - Faber is one of the few - and the small presses, who specialise, just don't have the money to book spaces. This year the poetry distributor, Inpress, who handle distribution for small presses, booked a big area, designated The Poetry Pavilion, with smaller booths for individual presses, and organised a programme of events across all three days of the Fair.
|The London Book Fair is vast - this is only a very small part of it.|
|Emma Press and Valley Press, sharing a stand.|
Sophie Hannah was also launching her collection, Marrying the Ugly Millionaire (Carcanet), with similar disadvantages. Next year the Poetry Pavilion will have to get a better sound system, or a quieter location.
It was a place to chat to people (the Poetry Society's Judith Palmer was there) and make new friends. This is Deborah Hodgett - poet and blogger @ The Beautiful Music of Words.
There was a Mexican theme at this year's LBF and, as well as launching a new edition of Octavio Paz, contemporary poet Pedro Seranno was reading from his new bilingual collection Peatlands (Arc). There were also readings by Simon Barraclough and Sarah Hesketh, who read from her new collection The Hard Word Box, which was written from a residency working with people suffering from Dementia. This was one of the readings I enjoyed most.
|Simon Barraclough, watched by Judith Palmer|
Michael asked some awkward questions. One of them was about university creative writing programmes. Are we churning out poets faster than we are churning out readers? He also questioned the ominous trend for the Arts Council to fund poetry on a book by book basis, rather than funding the press itself. That puts the Arts Council firmly in an editorial mode, which Michael thinks is unacceptable.
|One of the other panels with Jane Commane (Nine Arches Press), Tom Chivers (Penned in the Margins), Amy Wack (Seren) and Sheila Bounford (Inpress)|
And then there was wine ........