Sunday, March 11, 2018

Launch of Twitters for a Lark at 2018 States of Independence (set list)/Simon Perrril launch

We (Patricia and I) journeyed to Leicester for the 2018 States of Independence bookfair and reading event at DeMontfort University, Saturday 11th March.

They have a website (

I have an account of our last visit two years ago which I thoroughly enjoyed, to read for an Oystercatcher event ( It’s a great day out in its own right.

Apart from the travel, which could detain this account - only to say the unscheduled long journey back between Derby and Crewe, in a single carriage train full of drunks (at 8.00?) was not really a highlight - this year's event was most enjoyable.

We arrived in time for a quick chat with Tony Frazer, and to suggest he came in to watch Simon and myself reading.

We were there to launch Twitters for a Lark. As many will know, I worked in collaboration, over a number of years, with a team of real writers, to create a lively and entertaining body of work of fictional European poets. Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators, Patricia and Simon included, are accessible via links here.

Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own; they are collected now in Twitters for a Lark, published by Tony's Shearsman.  More on Twitters here and here

This collection marked a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through my solo creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ). And, as I began my (our) reading, I explained how the new project emerged from the first book, when Van Valckenborch invented the EUOIA ('Belgian dolls!' I quipped) and read

(set list) 

1.  'Book 4 Poem 1' by Sophie Poppmeier, which is dedicated to Tony Frazer, who was there. (Hence my insistence. He doesn't like to leave the book stall.)

More on her here:

2. Gurkan Arnavut's 'When Egrets Rise' came next, and I explained how Zoe Skoulding's suggestion that she and I collaborate on one of the EUOIA poets (they were 5 of them completed, like Sophie, plus a list of names, at this point) kickstarted the whole thing off, as I realised the best way to do ALL 28 was in collaboration and to let the collaborator lead. 

3. Patricia Farrell and I read a two-voice performance version of Italyo Dimitrov's 'Behind Into Beyond', which is one of the only poems you can see who dun wot. See also here and here:

Here we are at it, in a photograph taken by Andrew Taylor:

4. Simon Perril then read (as he had at Luton last year, see below) the complete translated works of Janis Raups. More on him here.

After that, I read some poets on my own:

5. Hermes (to prove that they weren't all invented paragons of virtue. He wrecked the EUOIA, the only Brexiteer in the grouping!) Created with Rupert Loydell.

6 I created the poems of Eua Ionnou with Kelvin Corcoran, and I read one of our verses. Nicely lyrical, a moving contrast with items 5 and 7! You can read more about her here:

7. I read one of Sean Eoghan's poems, the one based on AE (to whom Joyce famously (IOUed), the only poem to mention 'Brexit'. I explained how Brexit wasn't even a thing when I began the poem with Zoe, but it was by the time I was working with Steve McCaffery on Sean, towards the end of the project. History enveloped it. (But of course, if you want anti- Brexit poems, I've got plenty of those!) 

It felt great again to read with a couple of the contributors, and it was Simon's go next. He was launching his very fine Shearsman pamphlet OR he was celebrating being 50 with this reflective and funny poem. (See the balloons behind us, and one of his collage-novel stills, in the photograph. And there was cake!) In the final year of my 40s is much wittier and funny than the audience seemed to take it to be, with verses that ranged from the personal, funny:

In the final year of my 40s
I shall accommodate my disappointments
in an outhouse. There
they will be free to live
a full, frank and unfettered life.

Through to 'decisions' about the mechanics of future writing:

In the final year of my 40s
my failure to write a new poetics
founded upon ergonomics
will permit my poems
a greater grace and idiocy.

Great stuff! You can buy it here.

Simon’s poetry publications include Beneath (Shearsman: 2015) Archilochus on the Moon (Shearsman: 2013), Newton’s Splinter (Open House: 2012), Nitrate (Salt: 2010), A Clutch of Odes (Oystercatcher: 2009), and Hearing is Itself Suddenly a Kind of Singing (Salt: 2004), and now this new one  As a critic he has written widely, editing the books The Salt Companion to John James, and Tending the Vortex: The Works of Brian Catling. He is Reader in Contemporary Poetic Practice at De Montfort University, Leicester.Various posts on/by Simon on my blog Pages here: 

Patricia had made him a box of text. And I gave him 'Burnt Journal 1968', a birthday poem: 'Rhythms won't unstick from  our saccharine ears/even The Soft Machine can't blast away the VC10'. Read it here

Later in the afternoon there was a reading by Lila Matsumoto and Tim Youngs. Lila's new book is Urn and Drum , excellent stuff, judging from her reading.

OK: books I bought: first ALL Shearsman: Lila's, Simon's, Christopher Whyte's After Russia, trans of Tsvetaeva; Christopher Middleton's Serpentine, in Tony's new 'Library' imprint; Mark Goodwin's Back of a Vast; Robert Vas Dias (to whom I talked at the launch of Atlantic Drift )' Black Book; and Aidan Semmens' Life Has Become More Cheerful (which looks fab). 

Andy Taylor gave me a copy of his new Red Ceilings' Aire, delicate poems of place and being. I bought a book on Petrarch (probably a bit late in my obsession). 

Then a drink and the train...

More on the Luton launch here:

 Here's a post on the Manchester EUOIA reading in August 2017:

Independent publishing | Independent writing | Independent thinking

A book festival in a day

This year's States of Independence is our ninth. It's a book festival in a day, a marketplace, a conference, a chance to relax and listen to some readings, an opportunity to argue about issues in the industry and to meet with independent presses from across the region. Check it out next year!

States of Independence supports independent thinking, independent writing and independent presses. Join us for the day or an hour. Attend lots of events - you will be spoiled for choice - or just one, or simply come along and browse through the twenty or so bookstalls to see what the independent sector is publishing.
As always there will be poetry and fiction readings and industry panels discussing current hot topics
States of Independence is a free event, underwritten by Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham and the Centre for Creative Writing at De Montfort University, with the support of over fifty writers and over thirty presses.
All sessions are free, no tickets required.
Just turn up and stay for an hour or two, or the whole day.

States of Independence is organised and funded by Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham and the Creative Writing Team at De Montfort University, Leicester.