Yesterday was the Salt Cellar opening at the Scottish Poetry Library -- a lovely event, full of verve and entertainment and interesting people. Wena Poon, author of Lions in Winter, flew from the States to the UK to read, and a most memorable reading at that (I love all writing that focusses on cake)! So there were two American voices because Crashaw-Prize-winning Ryan Van Winkle read too. And Scottish: Rob Mackenzie, Andy Philip and Sandy Hutchison. Singing kept creeping in. Rob sang a couple of lines. Sandy sang a whole song. Ryan became Springsteen and deserved a toast for that alone. There were north of England voices too: the remarkable Tim Turnbull looking so good with that amazing moustache and of course Chris Hamilton-Emery himself. Really lovely to meet him and Jen in person, not to mention the kids.
I had a rendez-vous with Gill Andrews an hour or so before the Salt event to go through poems in her pamphlet (which is going to be marvellous, by the way, once we settle on the contents -- and the title). Possible titles so far:
- Profit and Loss
- Where I Am At
- For All the Wrong Reasons
- Passport to Anywhere
We sat on high stools at the window of the Starbucks just around the corner from the poetry library so we could spread the poems out sideways. When you sit here, you have the advantage (among other advantages because this is a nice cafe) of seeing visitors to SPL walk past you.
Two especially memorable moments. First seeing Rob Mackenzie walk past the window on the way to the reading. I attracted his attention (waving) and he stopped and turned. He was wearing a brilliant, beautifully blue shirt which perfectly matched the packet of Doritos he was eating. On the packet: COOL, ORIGINAL.
Second Starbucks moment: while waiting to get into the Ladies, glanced at the bookcase of free books for reading in the cafe and saw a hardback copy of Ariadne's Children, a novel by my brother-in-law Roddy Beaton (or ex-brother-in-law, if you want to get technical). I have it in paperback, not hardback. Naturally, I seized it, opened it. It was Angus Calder's copy. Angus's library, spread all round Edinburgh now he is gone. I wonder if he reviewed it? I had to have it, of course. They let me take it away and I left Jeremy Page and Sphinx 12 in its place.
Where will all our books go after we're dead? Who will find them and pick them up and take them home?
All set for the birthday party in SPL in two weeks time. Saturday June 12th, three for three thirty. Are you coming?