Friday, September 09, 2016

Flying in & out of Frome

So I got back home from San Francisco late on Monday realising there was no real point in emptying my case, more sensible simply to take remove the warmer layers and replace with books & course notes as I head off to lovely Skyros after four days enjoying Frome's warm sunshine.  It's autumn here, crab-apple & berry time, but apparently hot & stormy on the Aegean...

My  brief check-in included a terrific gig at Wednesday's Roots Grain Bar where Steve Loudoun and the Saboteurs covered an amazing range of styles with terrific vocals from Charlotte Egmore & Steve himself, and two very different art exhibitions.

Guy Watts is showing some of his fascinatingly complex 'detailed, dreamy' pen&ink works at La Strada until the end of October, and Paul Minott's exhibition of massive monoprints at Black Swan Arts had its launch on Friday.
In total technical contrast, Paul creates his designs on iPad and then each element is lasercut from thin plastic to be inked and etched and placed together to create a unique print. Well worth going to see, folks, and in the gallery till 8th October. Some lovely landscape photographs by Mahtola Eagle-Lippiatt in the cafe downstairs too.

I've been keen all summer to catch Frankenstein in Bath, the nightly 'theatrical walking tour' from the ever-innovative Show of Strength Theatre Company. The street performances of stories and histories I've seen in Bristol and Wells are always enjoyable, but this true tale from 1816 had extra appeal as it overlaps the Persuasion year featured in my play for Frome Festival Time Slides.  Creative Producer Sheila Hannon wrote this dramatic investigation and on Thursday led our intrigued group in the footsteps of Mary Shelley, revealing liaisons, tragedies & scandals along the way. Mary, as well as the poet Shelley's bride and the creator of Frankenstein the monster-maker, was the child of influential early-feminist Mary Wollstonecraft who died when she was 10 days old, so there's a particular  poignancy in her obsession with an unmothered creature whose life became a long frantic quest to find its creator. This saga of still-hidden secrets is totally gripping, evoking huge empathy & compassion as we hurried along the dark streets, pausing to eavesdrop fragments from letters of love & despair while the moon glowered above the plumes of our narrator's Regency headdress... It's on till the end of September, and it's a real treat. No booking, just turn up by the fountain outside the abbey at 7.30.

And finally this week: the exciting news from Burning Eye Books that my poetry collection Crumbs from a Spinning World will be published next month. I'm thrilled with the cover design by Mutartis Boswell, and more than chuffed to become, as Hannah Teasdale puts it, "another BE club member". With the tagline Never knowingly mainstream, Burning Eye scooped the Saboteur 2016 award for 'Most Innovative Publisher' - I'm thinking of making a lapel badge from that image... And in case you were wondering, my title was inspired by one of my favourite poets Brian Patten: it's the song of the slow, sad bird in The Translation:
"From my nest among moments 
Where I keep a spinning world 
I stole one crumb of joy 
But lost it coming here.”

So now I'm off again to join the team leaders in Atsitsa Bay for their penultimate week on the island. Smiley face!

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