The two Jims attracted a magnificent crowd for the launch of their new pamphlets on Saturday afternoon.
Both are accomplished readers and they did not disappoint. In fact, they were at their magnificent best. Highlights were Jim Carruth on the Scottish Independence vote, hilariously packaged in a poem about ice-cream; and Jim C Wilson taking Stevenson’s Mr Hyde in his stride via Adelaide Crapsey on an unerring route to Minsk which, as he pointed out, has not only a precise geography but a precise enunciation, without which it can turn to ‘mince’.
The audience was marvellously attentive, and the business of managing wine tasting in three sections between the poems made it a reading with zing. Ross Kightly, author of Gnome Balcony, became the blurb from Matthew Stewart’s wine poems. I was the wine.
The wine itself was also there in liquid form and merrily imbibed. Ross’s wife Chris joined the elves (the quiet but essential support staff (these included my daughter Gillian and her husband Jamie) circulating with wine tastings, pouring drinks downstairs, and later selling the books.
It was lovely to have several other HappenStance poets there too. Gerry Cambridge was on the stairs, Eleanor Livingstone, Alan Hill and Deborah Trayhurn sitting down. Jenny Elliott (whose mysterious Shed Press pamphlet Preparing to be Beautiful snuck into the recent subscriber mailshot) was there too. Patricia Ace standing at the back, Margaret Christie sitting near the front. Gill Andrews and Theresa Munoz came in a little later. Who says poetry is not a welcoming world?
Meanwhile, the Scottish Poetry Library was as life-enhancing as always, light streaming through the upstairs windows. There were people sitting on chairs listening, standing at the back, on the stairs – a couple even sitting downstairs for the sound to fall from above like snow. The angelic SPL staff were at the desk calm, reassuring and supportive. The ancient poets nodded quietly from their places between the pages on the library stacks.
This is a place in which magical things happen - and yesterday they did.