Sunday, 9 May 2010

Messing about with words

Regular visitors to this blog will have noticed a sharp decline in posts since I returned from Upernavik. It's time to make my excuses.

If only I could plead that I'd been languishing in the American Bar at The Savoy! I've just been ploughing through a phenomenal amount of work. Not just the heavy labour of re-reading Highsmith's Ripley novels. Not just rearranging stray commas in my sestinas or talking about climate change here and there. There are other, covert projects afoot, of which more anon. But yesterday evening I allowed myself out to go to a poetry reading at Greenwich Yacht Club organised by Fiona Moore. Even if I hadn't been under house arrest for the last month I'd have enjoyed the apocalyptic post-election sunset over the river. The glass building sat like an eyrie above the boatyard with Swallows & Amazons pennants draped from its rafters. It was like sitting inside Ian Hamilton Finlay's head. Bits of boat clinked and water lapped, providing an obliging soundscape for writing that ranged from Conradian meditations on the river to ballads echoing Ratty's view that "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

Those of you who found the Arctic posts of interest are invited to come and see me perform new poems at Sketch Gallery in Conduit Street, London, on 22nd May (2-4pm). Then I'm setting off by bus to the Netherlands, to paint Amsterdam a typewriter-ribbon shade of red with the artist Lynne Avadenka, who will be visiting from Detroit (if the volcano behaves itself), and to talk books with binder and writer Anik See and friends at the Meermanno Museum (Museum of the Book) in The Hague. Sometimes work is not so bad ...

Meanwhile, even death doesn't stop some people blogging conscientiously. The Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge has had the wonderful idea of putting Scott's Antarctic journals online, so that day by day you can follow his perilous journey to the pole.

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