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I was late in blogging this week because I shot off to London last Wednesday to the Michael Marks Award ceremony, then back to college for a day, then Barrow-in -Furness to do Poem n Pint reading (more of that separately), then Glasgow Monday for SQA meeting. I can't do this kind of hectic thing. My brain is still spinning.

Anyway, the award. The train got me there dutifully and beautifully, and I stepped out of Kings Cross into hot sunshine. Sat for a couple of hours in a cafe in Hampstead with poet Sean Haldane, whom I know by letter but not in person. I had been reading his new book, his Always Two: Collected Poems on the train. So following that with meeting him in person and talking about some of those poems was excellent: like a little slice of time out of time.

Then met Davina (D A Prince) and Maggie Butt for the ceremony in the Conference Centre of the British Library. It was a friendly event, held in a little lecture theatre. When London is a place you don't often go, you're surprised to find it somehow not feeling overwhelmingly formal. It was all pretty friendly, Richard Price did an interesting talk at the start, the six short-listed single poets each read poems from their publications and then a winner was announced.

Elizabeth Burns took the poetry prize. Her little pamphlet of elegies is extremely attractive: I read it later on the train on the way back, with particular pleasure. It is most beautifully produced by Galdragon Press, based in Orkney - warmly recommended.

I was very glad to have the opportunity to chat to Maggie and Davina. I haven't talked in person to Davina since her book launch, and it's years since I saw Maggie. She put me up overnight and we had breakfast next day in the garden! Marvellous. It is heart-warming to know there are such lovely people in Poetry World. And at the event, I was also able to chat to Clare Best, whose pamphlet I hope to publish later this year.

The winning pamphlet publisher was Oystercatcher Press. It's an interesting imprint and I had hoped to hear a bit more about them at the ceremony, but that didn't happen, although there was a chance to take a look at some of the publications. It is run by poet and artist Peter Hughes, who has a dog called Great Aunt Maisy. His words of acceptance were very modest - he seemed a nice chap, though I didn't speak to him in person unfortunately. I'll see if I can get him to do an interview for Sphinx.

It was nice to have the encouragement of even being short-listed for the award. But now it just makes me aware that (as Gordon Brown, and before him Tony Blair, is fond of saying) I need to Get On With The Job . . . .

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Summer simmers
At Water Yeat


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Wednesday, 08 February 2023