The 6th Poetry Library Open Day on Sunday 16th November took the theme of ‘The Material Word’, and featured a fascinatingly eclectic selection of exhibits, from poetic beer mats and brilliantly designed text/art to ‘proper’ books with beautiful covers, including several published by Enitharmon Press. The publicity led us to expect ‘edible poems, poems on T-shirts and poetry teabags’, all of which were entertainingly present, but there were also a lot of very beautiful, considered and complex manifestations or embodiments of poetic texts, including Michele Roberts and Caroline Isgar’s artists’ book The Dark and Marvellous Room, in which 12 very short stories, each a vivid vignette from an observant ten-year-old’s quirky take on family life, are balanced by 12 equally unsettling images – all set on a concertina string of detachable postcards in an oval framed cardboard case, like a souvenir from another time or place. We also liked the look of Pascal O’Loughlin’s witty Chocoholochismo, but didn’t expect it to survive the day without some encroachment from the general public.
Lots more images can be seen here, from the Poetry Library’s record of the day – not a complete catalogue, but a very good selection. We were there with Maureen Duffy, as the Poetry Library had included our Paper Wings, screening the artist’s film of the book throughout the day, and showing the limited edition printed book, which is a half-size digital facsimile of the original artist’s book/installation. It was a pleasure to meet so many poetry readers and artists’ book lovers, as well as to enjoy this entertaining and thought-provoking selection from the Poetry Library’s treasures.
On Saturday, we’d visited the Small Publishers’ Fair at Conway Hall, an event crowded with the most extraordinary range of books, artists’ books and things you could call books at a pinch, as well as prints, letterpress posters, laser-cut graphic art, pages made from vegetables, and some little things that looked like tiny paper hats – all for sale, and all so covetable. So having cleaned ourselves out for the month there, it was quite a relief just to look at the exhibits at the Poetry Library event, and not to be able to take some lovely things away with us. It is however, still possible to buy a copy of Paper Wings, in either book form or the DVD, from Enitharmon Press where the book is a limited edition (of 100) signed by both artist and poet, for £15, and the DVD is £10 (+VAT).