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Today content returns, along with the Baroque equilibrium. Everything in balance. And you know it’s always better to be on the side of happiness, wherever possible. There is a young couple in question far happier than many of us will ever be, and the existence of that happiness is to be applauded; and an air of happy anticipation and busy-ness in a city is also never a bad thing. In short, while it was madness yesterday – why do all those tourists need a picture of the Abbey taken right NOW? It’s been here for 800 years and will surely still be here on Saturday – even the helicopters seemed less menacing and more like busy bees. It’s just not my party…

So the Baroque composure has been regained, and the £50,000-worth of 15-year-old maples and hornbeams that are currently lining the aisles of Westminster Abbey in specially designed pots are neither here nor (figuratively) there. It will be beautiful; it will indeed be like an English garden inside the cathedral; it will be a kind of medieval excess that Westminster Abbey must, by its nature, invite. In the Middle Ages – and let us not forget that this building has been standing since the days of Henry III – the rich delighted in taking objects of great beauty and rarity out of their natural context, and making of them something else, partly about them and partly about the context. These are the people who ate peacocks and gold leaf. But this is a very modern, utilitarian 21st century excess: Catherine specified that she wanted all cream, white and green (“neutrals,” in the floral designer’s word), to show her English country roots; and the choice of living trees from the royal estates is meant to be “sustainable,” because they can all be replanted.


So last night, to the kind of poetry reading that makes you glad to go to poetry readings: three excellent poets, all published by Salt, read two sets each in the good old Wheatsheaf pub in Rathbone Place – one of old, published work, and one of new work. They stood on the little dais in front of the bow window with gothic stained-glass, and read their work against the dying golden light of the evening. In the interval and afterwards the talk was about narrative, anti-narrative and the poem as a “delivery mechanism,” with references to EM Forster; and of Horizon Review and, er, Portishead. Rob Mackenzie read us a poem based on a Portishead song (“Glory Box”) and actually sang us a couple of lines from the song. Your correspondent here was for some time more or? less obsessed with Portishead (which might tell you something) and so this went down nicely.

Rob Mackenzie has a new series of really interesting work on the autobiographical, but also universally human, theme of his young daughter’s mild autism, from the initial discovery of it to current daily living. There was a bedtime one I particularly liked. Also a very effective pantoum with the repeat line “The Prime Minister and his unlikeable sidekick.”

Liane Strauss read from a new group pamphlet out just yesterday, The Art of Wiring, with work by Simon Barraclough (our host for the evening), Isobel Dixon, Roisin Tierney and Christopher Reid. Her poem about everything being fine wowed the room. (No; it did! I’ll say no more. It’s witty and subtle and a great examplar for the “writing white” conundrum.)

And Andrew Philip‘s new MacAdam poems are shaping up into something quite ambitious and interior – the interiority that writing about an external character can paradoxically afford. It’s too easy to call a character, like Weldon Kees’ “Robinson”, or of course Berryman’s Henry, an “alter-ego.” Over-used word and platitudinous. No, a character is something that, like Adam, has life breathed into it. I published two of these new poems in Horizon Review Issue 5 and it was great to have a chance to see Andy recite them.

I was sitting next to Richard Price, listening, and it did cross my mind during the reading how satisfying it will be to have my poem, “Richard Price,” between covers at last.

I have got the first copy of Tamar Yoseloff’s The City With Horns to make it into the wild! It’s beautiful, and it’s a real book – and it’s a sign that Egg Printing Explained is also on its way. Yesterday I sent final final final proof corrections to Salt, so with luck it is at the printers e’en now. We’ll definitely have it for the launch, in any case. Too exciting.

Today I have real work to do, and for the next five days. The list essentially goes: classes to prep, Horizon Review to deliver to Salt, a job application to write, some household items and phone calls and errands, and some important admin to execute. (Off with its head, I say.)

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