The Beeston International Poetry Festival was a big success in the sense that the - admittedly small - venues filled up nicely, and in one case sold out. We heard poetry read in French, Greek and Spanish, and saw poets from half-a-dozen countries. The organiser was John Lucas; though John was ably assisted by David Belbin, Sue Dymoke and Sam Ward, John is the man who's able to conjure a poetry festival out of nothing and make it work. It's amazing what you can do without the internet; John doesn't use a computer, and wouldn't know how to send an email.
Last Tuesday saw a Leafe Press event; Leafe poets CJ Allen and Ernesto Priego read along with Faber poet and scholar Paul Binding. CJ (Clive) Allen has developed into a reader with a certain gravitas that doesn't at all distract from the humour of his poems, but does foreground their more serious concerns. Clive read from his Leafe selected poems, as well as work from the excellent collection 'Lemonade'. Ernesto Priego read poems from his three collections mainly in the English they were written in, though he did read one poem in Spanish. Ernesto also talked about the influence of Octavio Paz on contemporary Mexican poets. The fact that we sold a number of copies of Ernesto's book, and had some positive comments about the reading attested to its success. Paul Binding, multi-lingual scholar, expert on - among other things - Scandinavian literature, and Faber-published poet, gave an excellent reading; sadly, none of Paul's books were for sale - his Shoestring collection having sold out. Though he has an awe-inspiring CV, Paul proved to be very approachable and friendly. I'm currently reading his memoir of post-war Germany, St. Martin's Ride, which I'd recommend to anyone who wants to understand contemporary Europe, and Germany in particular.
End of Report. Next, I'll report on the Roy Fisher / Matthew Welton reading, but I can say that it ended the festival on a high.