This is the lovely venue – Wenlock Pottery – where four Dark Mountain poets, Sophie McKeand, George Roberts, Susan Richardson and myself, introduced by Nick Hunt showcased some varied, original often innovative poetry, and frankly, had a ball. The venue was packed and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
The day was also wonderful for me because I got to a workshop led by David Morley, in the grounds of the ruined Abbey. I’m a bit blase about abbeys – there’s one almost at the bottom of the garden, after all, but it was a good one – a bit more romantic than ours, and very pretty. And I went later to a reading from his latest book The Gypsy and the Poet. I had enjoyed his previous work, Enchantment, which I reviewed here, but these new poems seem much freer and looser, (though many of them are sonnets, which adds structure and direction) and have more energy – although maybe I feel like that, because his readings are so extraverted and lively.
Also I was able to meet up with the Dark Mountaineers I’d only met by email, and Jean Atkin, whose residency at Logan Garden I’d followed on line last summer, and to reunite with Susan, Cora Greenhill and Emily Wilkinson, whom I’d met at a Dark Mounatin weekend in scotland last year. Emily lives in Much Wenlock at the moment and is lucky enough to have a residency here
This is Wenlock Books, which must be the most beautiful bookshop on the planet – though the Watermill at Aberfeldy would give it a run for its money. And there is also a second hand bookshop Much More Books, where I got a copy of Richard Mabey’s Flora Brittanica – a book so big and so lavishly produced I never thought I’d be able to own it.
The Wenlock Festival isn’t as big as StAnza, but there was the same buzz about it, lots of helpful and welcoming volunteers, and a lovely Poetry Cafe. Many thanks are due to Antonia Beck, the Festival Producer, and her team who made the whole thing happen.