Monday, 26 March 2012
More editing and a reading.
Another of my avatars, Arthur Dehon Little
A day of PR editing - commissioning reviews and articles, reading through poems. But it's the reviews and articles that have to be handled first because, unlike the poems, they are still to write.
So I go through the last three years of Poetry Review and consider the books in, trying to make them into packages. It's a delicate balance. My instinct is to review as many publications as possible in c. 10 reviews, but if there are too many books in one article none of them gets a very good deal. However, considering the paucity of reviews elsewhere, and that some good books never get reviewed at all, there is a strong argument for more books per reviewer, not in every case, but in some. Some are out now. I can't do more tomorrow as I am teaching and at the Paul Farley reading in the evening, but I will send out more books on Wednesday.
I say I send them out but I am in Norfolk and the books are in London, so it is actually Rachel in the office who does the sending, I just make the decisions.
All in all it feels like a high-pressure day, and in the evening I myself am doing a reading in Norwich. That turns out to be lovely occasion. It's in an old church, once Swedenborgian. Some seventy people, all readers, mostly above the age of fifty I should say, but fully focused, appreciative and full of intelligent questions. The church is in what I think of as the intellectual centre of the city, where many of the senior university staff live. There is a cheering humane dedication in them. The reading is about 45 minutes with conversation at the end. I get a box of wine by way of payment - looks like nice wine - and a voucher for a restaurant. I wasn't expecting anything.
Sometimes one doesn't and it's not important. Festivals and funded bodies should pay the going rate but this is poetry so I read where I am invited. When asked, I say what my usual fee is. Sometimes they can't afford it. Sometimes that's OK.
There is an idea, to which poets actually play, the very poets who are reading (I have heard them), that poetry readings are a form of torture. Depends who is doing it perhaps, but if that is the case, there are a good number of people who want this kind of torture.
Because, of course, it is not torture at all. It is concentrated listening to the music and space of language as it meets what happens. It is part of intelligent planetary life.