Saturday, 26 November 2011
In the summer of 2009 Australian artist Vera Möller spent time in the King’s Wood at Challock, not far from here, as part of an exchange program between Stour Valley Arts and Heide Museum in Melbourne. On Thursday evening the fruits of this period of research were revealed when Möller’s show opened at the Sidney Cooper Gallery in Canterbury. She was trained as a biologist and microbiologist in Germany subsequently studying art in Melbourne. The ‘hybrids’ are tiny models of imaginary fungi which were placed in the natural environment of the King’s Wood and photographed with a macro lens. The large hall at the rear of the gallery shows these large photographic images while a small glass case houses the surprisingly small models. In the hallway and the front room are works on paper which conjure up additional imagined images of mycological specimens and cellular forms. Stour Valley Arts have put together many fine artists books and Vera Möller’s is no exception. It’s a beautiful production concentrating on the photographed hybrids and including critical texts by Justin Clemens (Melbourne), Peter Vujakovic (Canterbury), a witty imagined taxonomy by Ian Bride (Whitstable) and poem/journal extracts from me (Faversham).
Thursday, 24 November 2011
Tuesday night’s reading at The Lamb featured Gavin Selerie and Kelvin Corcoran. Gavin read new work centred on the great English/West Indian saxophonist Joe Harriott together with a longer piece from Music’s Duel, the selected poems. Kelvin read from the new Longbarrow Press book Words Through a Hole Where Once There Was a Chimpanzee’s Face (there’s a rational explanation of this title but you’ll have to buy the book to find out). It’s always a pleasure to hear these two poets. It capped off an enjoyable evening eating out with August Kleinzahler.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
On Saturday I also picked up Simon Smith’s wonderful new book from Veer, Gravesend. The poems within were ‘written whilst travelling by train between Charing Cross and Chatham’. I once amused myself on the trip in to London by counting all of the footballs at the bottom of embankments. Smith has done a lot more than this. The poems aren’t sonnets (strictly speaking) but they nevertheless have the feel of the modern sonnet about them.
Sunday, 13 November 2011
The annual Small Publishers’ Fair took place on Friday and Saturday at its usual location, Conway Hall, off Red Lion Square. I was there for a good part of Saturday and read with Jaime Robles in a Shearsman bracket. On Saturday morning sales seemed sluggish but as the crowd increased things looked like they were picking up. One of the pleasures of this event is purchasing things from the smallest of the small publishers. I bought a couple of Jaime Robles self-produced books at the Shearman stall. She is a wonderful book designer, having run Woodland editions from her native California and further work under her own name from Exeter. I also bought more little books from Laurie and Thomas A Clark’s Moschatel Press produced in Scotland and Japan. And Geraldine Monk and Alan Halsey kindly sold some copies of my Allotments volume at their West House Books stall.
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
In 1973 Michael Wilding and Pat Woolley decided to start a publishing house. Michael, originally from the West Midlands, was writing short stories and teaching in the English department at the University of Sydney. Pat, a Californian, had publishing experience with her own Tomato Press. That press had published Pam Brown’s first book, Sureblock, a couple of years before, and it was through Pam that I met Pat. Wilding’s memoir, just published by Giramondo details the years of Wild & Woolley Press. One evening in 1973 not long before the idea of the Press was hatched, Pat and Michael came back to his place in Balmain to discover that ‘the poets had already entered through the bathroom window . . . eating and drinking whatever they could find . . . Robert Adamson, John Forbes, Laurie Duggan and Nigel Roberts as I remember, give or take a few’. I ended up working for Wild & Woolley at their Chippendale office as a storeman, packer and driver. There’s a photo in the book of the tiny van (powered by a two-stroke engine) with which I did the Sydney deliveries. The Press distributed American books from New Directions, Black Sparrow, City Lights, Four Seasons, Greywolf and other smaller presses and a good deal of my income was spent on these volumes. As an employee I got them practically at cost but I remember Michael saying once, watching me sweating under some boxes ‘it’s like paying the slogging natives off with alcohol’. The Press subsequently published my second book, Under the Weather, in 1978. I’d shown the manuscript to Michael and he’d immediately taken it on. His faith in the book wasn’t reciprocated by the reviewers mostly. One well-known Australian poet called it ‘an easy tiny read’. It was the book, I’ve since realised, in which I found my own way to write. I’m grateful to Michael and Pat for letting it into the world.