Sheffield graffiti – photo by W. Marsh

The reason we couldn’t get closer to this fabulous piece of work was because the site is now cordoned off with construction fencing, due to imminent demolition. This ‘regeneration’ is the cause of the independent book shop, Rare and Racy, closing this month. Pubs and book shops – maybe they’ll form part of some folk myth we’ll be talking about fondly in old age. And where do poems sit in this climate of closure? Readings go down well in pubs (and bookshops of course) but sales of poetry books are generally low. Poetry’s a niche market I think. There’s probably not much money in it for most writers and maybe that’s okay. It means, as an art form, it can set its own agenda. Mainstream often means bland. Poetry is exciting (mostly). Certainly, there’s been lots happening around here recently: I’ve been to two evenings of readings as part of the South Yorkshire Poetry Festival, a writing workshop at the Poetry Business in Sheffield, plus two local workshops, all in the last ten days.

Also, my new pamphlet arrived at the end of last week, earlier than anticipated. This was a lovely surprise, and made me feel extremely grateful for all the help I’ve been given in putting it together. So, here are some thank yous. There’s Peter and Ann Samson at the Poetry Business, where a good number of the poems were written. I owe pretty much everything to them as I probably wouldn’t be writing poetry at all if it wasn’t for their workshops. Then there’s Helen Mort and Kim Moore who took the time to read and comment on the pamphlet. They are both incredibly talented and hard working, and generous too. They made space for me, and for my work, in their busy schedules and that means a lot. They’re both part of this year’s Ted Hughes Festival, so if you want to see just how amazing they are, why not go along to Mexborough, where poetry is very much alive and kicking.



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