Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The book fair: reasons to delight

Selected reasons for coming along on Saturday to Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE: the poetry book fair, from 10 a.m.

1: It’s free, and the cricket season is over so what else are you going to do on a Saturday? The shopping?

13: There hasn’t been such a gathering of poetry presses in London for too long, and without your presence to show that it’s a worthwhile assembly there won’t be another for another long time.

14: Exmouth Market itself: cafés, bars, outdoor stalls and a fine independent bookshop (Clerkenwell Tales) next door to the book fair. Joseph Grimaldi, celebrated English clown, lived here between 1818 and 1828.

29: Madame Rosa, after reading your palm, has foreseen that at the book fair you will meet someone ‘who could be important in your life, / the future tells me / he could be the one.’ Or she. (I’m quoting from a Bill Manhire poem, so it must be true.)

33: There’ll be poets there from planet mainstream and poets from planets that do exist but whose discovery has never been recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society. The Poetry Wars: think of this event as the equivalent of that Christmas 1914 occasion when when the Tommies and the Boches clambered out of their trenches, dropped their rifles and played football.

34: There is no VAT on books. Yet.

41: To hear an early-autumn chorus of 30 poets reading from their work throughout the day.

57: If you think any event larger than than a one-off book launch has to have corporate resources and/or Arts Council money behind it but would like to believe otherwise, then come and believe.

99, 100 and 101: Michael Horovitz. From even before the 1965 Albert Hall reading (Ferlinghetti, Corso, Burroughs, Logue, Horovitz et al, and an audience of 7,000), he has carried the New Departures and Poetry Olympics torch through to today. Legend. On stage at 11 a.m.

293, 408 and 666: Because there’ll be books at the fair you won’t come across elsewhere. Because a book in the hand at the fair is worth six in the post from a rainforest in South America. Because you’re worth it.

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