Recently I’ve done a few readings as a way of officially launching ‘Codes of Conduct’.
The first was at The Pitshanger Bookshop in Ealing. The shop is close to where I work and Fiona, who owns and runs the shop, is very supportive of local writers. As such, Fiona was happy to stock my pamphlet, but even better she invited me to do a reading along with Mona Arshi, another local poet. (Mona won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2015).
The Pitshanger Bookshop is a lovely place, and the sort of shop where one could easily spend time browsing. However, what elevates it beyond the likes of W.H Smith’s and my nearest Waterstones, is the sense of community and interest that comes from the staff. If you want to know about a book, an author, or want ideas for a nephew’s birthday then Fiona and her team are great at giving you helpful answers. Beyond that, Pitshanger Lane is a lovely place and the inside of the bookshop reflects that. One gets a warm glow just walking into the shop – like that old Readybrek advert. Sadly, like hedgehogs, independent bookshops are in decline, just under 900 are left in the U.K, : places like this need to be cherished.
It was a lovely evening, and for me it had an added twist – I didn’t just read, which I’m always happy to do, but I also had questions put to me in a Q & A style. This part of the evening was interesting, because I was challenged on such things as “Why is there no punctuation in the last poem?” and “How do you come up with ideas?” Some of these questions never get a satisfactory answer, at least from me, and unless Simon Armitage is now so well-rehearsed at dealing with them, I doubt even he is able to really pin-down some of the alchemy that goes on.
Next stop was The Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden. I’ll write something about that lovely place soon. Oh, and please look out for hedgehogs – cut a gap in your fence for easy roaming at night, for a start.