It was an intimate affair: in the round at the New Venture Theatre in Brighton yesterday evening, the first Sunday of the Brighton Festival and an unusually sunny (if not balmy) evening, with poet friends and friends of poetry, all to celebrate the 30th birthday of the Frogmore Press.
The evening brought some thrilling reading from Michaela Ridgeway, John McCullough, Maria Jastrzębska and Frogmore founder Jeremy Page. The stage set included a seductive-looking chaise longue although only John and Maria were brave enough to test it out. John, after announcing he was going to read ‘Sleeping Hermaphrodite’ (from his fabulous – and award-winning – collection The Frost Fairs) because it was a favourite of mine, took up a Greek statue pose on the chaise to read it. (BTW This was not the position you see in the photo above – that was the next poem, ‘Small, vertical pleasures”!)
Other highlights for me: Michaela’s valediction for Hugo Chavez, all the more poignant for its plentiful Spanish expletives and the imagining of his fighting talk to the very end, Maria’s many moving poems from her recently-launched collection At The Library of Memories including ‘Grandfather Clock’, and Jeremy’s reading of ‘Nuns’ by Bob Mitchell from the Frogmore Papers’ archive, which possibly got the biggest laugh of the night.
This was one of a series of events to celebrate the Frogmore Press’s birthday – others are happening at the Poetry Cafe in London and in Folkestone, where the press was founded. Details on the Frogmore blog.