The Poetry Book Fair, Free Verse, has become an unmissable fixture on the poetry calendar. Every year, it brings together publishers, poets, and other poetry-fans from across the UK and beyond. It seems to keep getting better too. This year’s events have certainly grown, including a children’s poetry section, workshops themed around translation, and even poetry cosplay judged by Sidekick Books.
I popped in around midday, and managed to buy an impressive amount of books in record time. Some finds include David B. Goldstein’s Object Permanence and Tomaž Šalamun’s Poker (both Ugly Duckling Press), Janet Rogerson’s Bad Influence Girl (Rialto), Catherine Smith’s The New Cockaigne (The Frogmore Press), the latest Rising, JT Welsch’s Hell Creek Anthology (Sidekick Books), and more.
The wonderful thing about the fair is discovering all these new publishers I’d not come across before, such as Singing Apple Press, who produce gorgeously hand-crafted work, and Isobar Press, who publish English-language poetry from Japan.
Up on the stage, Versal had a stall where they showcased work created all over Europe – a lovely collective effort. I bought Versal’s tenth anniversary issue, which is worth it for the interview with Michael Martone alone.
I also purchased Matchbook Stories issue 3, a matchbox-shaped magazine created in Cyprus by Book Ex Machina. The quality of the design was impeccable – though I wish the content itself had been a touch more inventive.
I attended Tim Wells and Emma Hammond’s Penned in the Margins readings – as fun as their books, which I recommend heartily. I also attended Harry Man’s English-to-English translation workshop – I can’t remember the last time I attended a poetry workshop as a student, quite a nice change! I took an extract from Dante’s inferno and translated it using the Red Cross’s First Aid Manual.
I wish I’d stayed longer, and caught up with more people, but I foolishly thought I’d pop off to see the Cosmonaut exhibition at the Science Museum, and got rapidly drained of energy by London’s public transport system so had to head home. Until next time, and for now, I’m enjoying the free anthology that came with the fair, introducing me to what’s between the pages of unknown presses…..