I’ve written quite a lot about other peoples’ launches from time to time, so I’m going to be self-indulgent and talk about last night. It was a joint launch by Red Squirrel Scotland of new full collections by myself and Eleanor Livingstone, StAnza’s new Director. It started off a bit anxiously, as our publisher, Sheila Wakefield, was picking up the copies of Eleanor’s book – Even the Sea – from the printers near Berwick-on-Tweed en route to the Scottish Poetry Library. As the attendees started to foregather Eleanor and I stood by the door, weaiting anxiously for the books – and Sheila of course. But we needn’t have worried; Sheila and Joanne arrived with the books, and Eleanor got her first sight of her book.
By now the audience had jammed round the drinks and nibbles tables, and we realised that the numbers were far in excess of the 50 we had anticipated. In fact, they were standing at the back and on the staircase – I estimated there were around 80 in the library, and the heat build-up was considerable. Kevin Cadwallender did the introductions in his usually witty way, and although I’m not sure that neither Eleanor nor I are really ‘national treasures’ , it was nice of Kevin to say so. We each read two 10-minute sets, and my set lists are:
Back in Assynt
A short history of Xi’An
The jewel in the gym
The red-eye, and
In the second set I read
Entering your poem
Now you see it
Day tripper, and
I debated with myself beforehand whether I should read the last one, which describes Tibetan funeral customs in some explicit detail, but I decided to go ahead, and I’m glad I did. I used my Tibetan singing bowl at the start, and I finished my sets with Tibetan hand chimes.
It was an absolute joy to see so many friends in the audience, and it was an evening I will treasure. Tomorrow (Friday) I’m reading in Glasgow at the Tchai Ovna, where I hope to see some of my West coast friends who couldn’t make it to Edinburgh. If anyone wants to buy copies of our books, they’re both available from the Red Squirrel website.