London: British Library and Poetry International

Spent yesterday morning in the shadow of Newton

at the British Library’s Business & IP (intellectual property) centre, attending a workshop on search engine optimization. It was a fairly fleeting visit, not allowing time to go and breathe the studious air of the reading rooms, but lovely to be there nonetheless. I had to rush off up the road to Islington to see Nancy and Mike, who had laid on a lovely spread of Ottolenghi treats, the better to catch up on our mutual travels. They’d been to the Torbay Festival of Poetry and, well, I hadn’t. But I’d been some other places we could talk about.

Then we all headed out to catch a bus, since it was a tube strike night, to get to the Southbank. Owing to all the extra road traffic, the bus ground to a halt and then chucked us all off early, so we walked along the Strand for a while and crossed over Waterloo Bridge with its admirable views of the Southbank, the Eye and Parliament.

Had it been light we might have taken a look at the Drop sculpture which I saw a couple of weeks ago.

But: it was dark, and we were there for a Poetry International reading, introduced by Simon Armitage, who’ll be in residence there for the next three years, seeing in the Poetry Parnassus project which aims to bring in 200+ poets, from all participating Olympics countries.

On this occasion we heard from six poets: Anne Carson (Canada), Kristiina Ehin (Estonia), Mimi Khalvati (UK/Iran), Bill Manhire (New Zealand), William Ospina (Colombia)

and Nii Parkes (UK/Ghana). Among my favourite readers in a very good evening were Anne Carson, reading from her gorgeous new collection, Nox; the amazing William Ospina, whose haunting works are sadly not available in English (but a small selection had been translated for the occasion); and Kristiina Ehin’s wildly entertaining reading which included some wedding songs: she warned us we’d find the melodies sad, and said this was because the idea is that if Estonian brides do not weep the night of their wedding, they will weep for all the years of their marriage.

And now for a picture of a nicely named street in Asti:

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