Why have one launch, when you can have two? South Bank Poetry held another launch reading for issue 19 at Clapham Books on Thursday evening. A smaller affair than the event at the Poetry Café last Friday, but the standard was just as high, and the setting, in one of south London’s best independent bookshops, friendly and intimate.
As Joolz was away researching Viennese Torte, Hilaire carried the banner for London Undercurrents. There wasn’t room to take a theatrical step from one side of the river to the other as I alternated between our poems, but I certainly felt the connections between the different voices in these pieces even more strongly through performing Joolz’s work.
London, of course, took centre stage in many of the poems aired last night. Martin Jones read a number of wry poems drawing on his memories of bohemian London in the 50s and 60s. His mention of Finch’s in Fulham prompted a nod of recognition from Angela Kirby, who also remembers drinking there back in the day. Angela’s set included her bittersweet poem Down Brixton Way from the current issue of SBP and three powerful poems rooted in her family’s losses over the last century of world conflicts. Some of the poems Chris Hardy performed also touched on war and loss, in particular the shiver-inducing Silent Meeting and this issue’s Red, White and Blue. Lisa Kelly began with two moving poems about her parents’ deaths, six months apart, followed by several that deal with the world of work. There’s a great punch to both the poems themselves and Lisa’s delivery. Harrods Beauty Hall fizzes with controlled anger. Sian Williams read an extended version of her contribution to SBP 19, Rear Window in Balham, as well as her own take on Dylan Thomas’s The Hunchback in the Park, reworked in the vein of Do not go gentle into that good night. That’s some ambitious mash-up! And Pauline Sewards treated us to mix of sensory experiences from the seedily exotic Fine Dining in Soho to the lush decadence of Synaesthetes night out at Cafe Oto. SPB founder and co-editor Peter Ebsworth started and ended the evening with a few of his own poems, ranging from a gently comic one based on his much older brother’s escapades rummaging through London bombsites during the Second World War, a racy poem that Peter was pleased to learn recently had made Kathryn Maris laugh out loud, to the poignant Split Seconds. Before leaving, he also made sure Clapham Books is well stocked with copies of South Bank Poetry, so if you’re in the area pop in and check it out. Indie bookshop, quality poetry mag, savvy punters. Perfect combination.