Monday, August 30, 2021

A bookish week, mostly, with celebrations too.

Let's start with words:  On Tuesday, Tina at Hunting Raven Books organised a launch for Pete Gage to discuss and read from his newly published poetry collection: Fifty-Six Poems, a handsome further addition to Hobnob Press's list of titles by Frome authors. Pete has previously been best known as a rock & blues musician, but these profound and moving reflections, all untitled, are drawn from another side of the Doctor Feelgood singer's creative energy, intensely personal and deeply aware of universal griefs. He shares a powerful evocation of his 'mythic disgust' at war in Suddenly I wept and his passion for Schumann in a reverie written in Bonn where the troubled composer is buried. Reproductions of Pete's elegant mandalas in mainly muted colours, on each alternate page, are a perfect calm counterpoint to the love and sadness plangent in Pete's words. This is, literally, a beautiful book and one to treasure.
Regular readers will know that Hobnob is owned & run by Dr John Chandler, who commissioned and published Frome Unzipped - from Prehistory to Post-punk.  This well-respected small press originally specialised in local history, so my follow-up The Price of Bread, although a sort-of social history of 1970s Belfast, was a stretch in genre by being a novel. Other Frome writers have found homes for their imagined histories here too, and the mysterious, unquantifiable, creativity of Frome has resulted in a veritable banquet of fiction and poetry appearing in the Hobnob stable. 
My latest contribution - as already referenced in this blog - is Déjà Lu, 37 short stories previously published.  Now this is officially 'out' and available in Hunting Raven Books (as well as from my stash of signed copies), my bestie & partner-in-drama Rosie Eliot hosted a soirée to welcome this new title into the Frome community. Small but perfectly formed, with fizz & nibbles - amuse bouche created by the hostess - this was a delightful event: here's David Moss, whose stunning painting we used for the book cover, cajoling me into a speech (which lasted all of 30 seconds), and the image below is that breathless moment before everyone arrives... Thanks to Rosie for these snaps, and to everyone who came - it's fascinating to hear which are your favourites in this collection.  

And rain held off too on Saturday night when there were other Frome shenanigans, with the Silk Mill transformed into a hedonistic paradise for a much bigger party with cocktails and eastern delicacies in the big yard, and much dancing within the gallery to amazing sound & visuals from Breezeblock Beats.  
Such celebrations are really appreciated as summer dwindles and blackberries & fallen leaves are thick along the dank lanes. '
Poem of the day' for Sunday was, appropriately, this from Robert Frost: 
Nature’s first green is gold, / Her hardest hue to hold. / Her early leaf’s a flower; / But only so an hour. / Then leaf subsides to leaf./ So Eden sank to grief, / So dawn goes down to day. /  Nothing gold can stay.

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