Apologies for being so silent this week. I've been very much occupied with non-internet business, including a few days away from home at the Oxford Literary Festival.
I had a great time in Oxford and am still recovering somewhat. I stayed one night in Christ Church itself, which is a beautiful and stately - though rather sinisterly imposing - college. I had the devil's own job getting through the gate on arrival, security there being tighter than at Buckingham Palace. But their cooked breakfast was good!
On the Festival front, I attended several live literature events around the town, including an important ClimateX collaboration with poetry performers from Hammer & Tongue. The night before that, I witnessed the best live act I've ever seen: the magnificent Chloe Poems, whose powerful delivery and emotional range I cannot praise highly enough. (This interview does not do her justice as an artist.)
Later I had the amused pleasure of listening to three Grumpy Old Men read their poetry, i.e. Tom 'Troubles' Paulin, Jamie McKendrick and the admittedly not grumpy but rather lovely Bernard O'Donoghue. A very different act to that of Chloe Poems!
Plus, I spent many happy hours bent over books in the Radcliffe Camera, researching an article I'm writing for PN Review on the relevance of Old English to the world of contemporary poetry.
On returning home, I found sick children and a sudden inspection of our rented house pending. Since I'm the sort who likes to hang up her clothes on the floor, this last has proved particularly wearing on the soul.
I also had to go straight back out again that night to hear Mario Petrucci read in Coventry, a poet I've known since we met on an Arvon course in 1995, when we were both still unpublished. A few of us went for a curry afterwards in a backstreet balti house, which worked out at roughly a fiver per head. Astonishing value, and a fabulous poetry evening to boot.
No time to relax though once this dreaded inspection is over. I'm now reviewing another book for the excellent Tower Poetry, plus a few more for Poetry Review, and I still have a novel to finish this summer.
Not that I'm complaining, not a bit of it. As the lovely Penny Lane (played by Kate Hudson) says in Almost Famous: 'It's all happening!'
Now playing: Various Artists - America