Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Welcome to the New Hull...

...says the hoarding at the train station. What can it mean? "We now have arcades with the same shops that you have at home, even Greggs?" "Hull Pride is on July 31st"? Still, this cafe has wifi, and a croissant, fresh orange juice and excellent coffee for £3.60. My Hull friends say that Hull people do like a bargain (see also Larkin's phrase in his poem "Here" about the "cut price crowd"). Actually it is the old Hull I wanted to see. The Wilberforce House and Museum for starters (though I hope that when Desmond Tutu dropped by he was not on his lonesome, as I was), which also contained a small but fascinating exhibition on Philip Larkin. I wanted also to find the spot on the river Hull where James Booth took the photograph gracing the cover of our Old City, New Rumours. Rather than make a call I wandered until I found the spot, in fact just behind the Wilberforce House, though it took me three hours to find it. I also wandered to find the street called The Land of Green Ginger, the best street name in the world.
Last night saw an event linked to the book, part of the Humber Mouth Book Festival, with Andrew Motion reading from his new poems (some of which feature in the collection). The tickets described him as ex-Poet Laureate, while "former" sounds kinder, but he does seem to have been liberated by leaving the Laureateship behind him, and it was a good reading. Various other contributors to the book were around, Ian Parks, Tony Griffin, Douglas Houston and others, and it was good to finally make it to Hull and to meet some of them. I'd been unable to attend the launch due to a family crisis. Sorry not to meet Maurice Rutherford though, but pleased to hear that his New and Selected will be out from Shoestring soon. Maurice is in his 90s. Is he the oldest poet still publishing?
Good also to meet Maggie Hannan, who's been involved with Humber Mouth these past twenty years or so. She said she was a poet herself until about fifteen years ago, but was cured..

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