Yesterday evening, I went to Edinburgh’s annual Poetry Pamphlet Party and Fair. It’s now in its seventh year and has grown a great deal in that time. You could browse pamphlets, most self-published (many of the established pamphlet publishers were absent this year), and buy whatever appealed to you. Every so often, there was a series of readers, each reading one poem.
It’s a good event for hanging around and chatting, or ‘networking’ as someone put it to me. There’s free wine, crisps and mince pies. I met Hugh McMillan in person for the first time. I’m very impressed by the look of his new pamphlet of poems and etchings (the etchings are by Tom Bryant). However, I have stopped buying poetry books until January at least. Maybe then…
Tony Lawrence gave me a copy of his pamphlet, Quantum Gravitas: A New Theory of Poetry. It’s a mathematical approach, an attempt to capture the essence of poetry by various formulae e.g. Δp = W – ΣPi where W represents a whole, Pi a part, p represents poetry, and Δ and Σ signify ‘change in the amount of’ and ‘sum of’ respectively. In other words, the poetic content of a poem can be defined as the amount by which the whole exceeds the sum of its parts – and this is just from the first of twelve pages. I’m not all that sure how serious Tony is, but going to the event was worth it for getting this alone.
Some decent poems were read. Nothing really blew me away from writers whose work I hadn’t been familiar with before, but maybe that’s only to be expected. If there are any brilliant unknown geniuses out there, they are still hiding in their garrets. However, some fairly new poets got the chance to read one of their poems in public and the Fair did afford an opportunity for discovering some diverse material.
I’ve just found Colin Will’s take on the Pamphlet Fair. Colin is positive about the event, but asks why there so many poets and publishers there and so few members of the general public. Also why so few young people – both good questions!