Thursday, 7 November 2013
On the weekend of Friday-Sunday November 1-3 at The Beacon in Hastings and again on the evening of Wednesday 6 at the Poetry Library in London, Nicholas Johnson’s Etruscan Books organised a series of readings and talks. I went to Hastings on Saturday afternoon for a session on the work of Andrew Crozier at which Johnson, Ian Brinton, Phillip Crozier, John Seed, Wendy Mulford, John Hall and John James read and spoke about Crozier’s work. Phillip, his artist brother, read an illuminating and detailed memoir of childhood on the south coast of Kent. Colin Still presented some rare footage of Crozier reading, apologising for the sound which, nonetheless, was clear enough for the duplicated texts to be unnecessary. At the Poetry Library four days later the focus was on the Etruscan imprint. The readers were John Hall, Nicholas Johnson, Stuart Montgomery, Helen Macdonald and Carlyle Reedy. John Seed was also involved in the presentation and (courtesy of Tom Pickard) a section of the Roy Fisher film Birmingham River was shown. It was good to meet Montgomery, who had run the Fulcrum imprint through the sixties and early seventies. These books were produced in editions of 3000 or so, a run unheard of since. But it meant that as a complete stranger to recent British poetry I could come across volumes by Basil Bunting and Roy Fisher in Melbourne’s Margareta Webber bookshop in the late sixties. It was a pleasure too to hear Carlyle Reedy for the first time. Etruscan has published her selected poems recently (2012) together with a song for Alaric (2013), her visual tribute to her friend Alaric Sumner who had been an early active force in the Gay Liberation movement (both books share the general title Epos). Etruscan, like Fulcrum before it, has a wonderful list of finely produced books, not least the two great selections of John Hall’s poems (the second of which, now out, is dated 2014). Above are shots of John Seed at The Beacon an hour or so before proceedings began, a blurry one of Nicholas Johnson at the Poetry Library, and another of Helen Macdonald at the same venue.