Friday, 1 June 2012

Poets in Beeston returns

The illustration here is of the cover of one of our earliest books, from 1996 (and, yes, it is still available) - an anthology celebrating the 15th year of Poets in Beeston, a series of readings in Nottingham organised by Robert Gent, who edited the book. The anthology includes poets including Danny Abse, Fleur Adcock, James Berry... through to Ken Smith and Charles Tomlinson. The book was launched with Jackie Kay as the guest poet. Over the years everybody who was anybody in the British poetry world (and a few overseas guests) read at Beeston, the series being very generously supported by Nottinghamshire County Council. The series should have closed when Robert moved on, but was passed to my tender mercies and was wound down after a couple of years for all sorts of reasons, including the development of other readings elsewhere in the County.
Well, life moves on, and sometimes back in circles so, after some discussion between Five Leaves, Nottingham Poetry Society and Nottinghamshire Libraries, Beeston Poets returns in the autumn. For months we'd been talking about a series "something like Beeston Poets" before realising that what we really wanted was to re-establish Poets in Beeston. That is exactly what we will do, in the same venue as of old, which has been recently renovated. Robert thinks it is a good idea too! Pippa Hennessy will be leading on the project from Five Leaves, together with our sometime author Cathy Grindrod, their fellow NPS member Jeremy Duffield and Sheelagh Gallagher and Gill Rockett from Notts Libraries. Because of course it takes five or six people to do the work that Robert did on his own.
Times have changed - Notts County Council can't put in the money of old, but we'll have a dedicated website and email list as our main publicity (which features had not been on the go last time round). We might not have the money this time to put on some of the biggest names and some of the old Beeston favourites - UA Fanthorpe, Jon Silkin, Adrian Mitchell and others are no longer with us, but there will be some new kids on the block. And we'll have a cafe atmosphere.
The opening programme will launch this October with, appropriately, Jackie Kay, followed by Neil Astley from Bloodaxe in November and Five Leaves' Andy Croft in December. Dates and details will follow.

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