I had a wonderful day last Saturday at Inpress books Poetry Garden Market on the Southbank ‘lawn’, outside of Foyles. The sun shone, in true Indian Summer fashion, on an afternoon of readings by great new poets, including some of my personal favourites, Hannah Lowe and John Wedgewood Clarke. Come seven o’clock when it was time to read my poem, ‘September After Rain’, which won second prize (it was a Clean Sweep for the North East!) in the Indian Summer competition, I’d been through a lot. I’d been through the ‘what am I doing here, my poem’s not good enough, I’m not really a poet,’ to – bouyed up by my lovely, kind daughter and wonderful words from the judge Steve O’Brien, Editor of The London Magazine, – my poem is good enough its been chosen, this a great occasion, I’m a poet and I’m going to enjoy it.
The reading felt intensely public: out of doors, on the Southbank, people in nearby cafes and passers by listening in – it was like telling your poem to the world. Thankfully there was a microphone and London threw its beautiful evening sky at me. I think I managed OK, I certainly found a friendly face in the audience, but my legs turned to jelly and shook as I read and that’s never happened to me before.
Afterwards there were flowers and much needed wine. Inpress and Foyles staff made it a great evening with a truly celebratory feel – so many thanks to all - I had the best time!