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Charlotte Gann book launch

It’s always a joy to hear poet friend Charlotte giving a reading. There’s a weight to her voice, a rootedness … it’s hard to explain what I mean. There’s no act, no funny stuff. She presents her poems simply, and they just seem to appear in the room – completely in the proper place – like great trees that have been growing for hundreds of years.

Charlotte Gann

Last night was the first launch of Noir, Charlotte’s first full-length collection, published by HappenStance, and it was in her home town of Lewes. It was my home too, for fourteen years (just passing through!), and it’s still slightly weird to go back to, especially on (almost) the eve of Bonfire, its biggest day of the year. I walked down the High Street and Sarah Barnsley and I almost didn’t recognise each other in the dark as we waited to cross the road. Spookily appropriate for the book’s title. But everything about the event was the opposite of noir – a wonderful gathering of friends, family and supporters, a happy audience.

audience at Charlotte's reading

I loved hearing Charlotte’s ‘trailer’ for the book – a selection of poems from the different sections, ending with ‘Molecular Biologist’, a poem from Charlotte’s 2011 pamphlet The Long Woman, and written for her brother (who was there last night). One of the poems is written in the shape/layout of a letter, which Charlotte helpfully explained…

Charlotte Gann reading

My phone takes terrible photos in the dark, so many thanks to Julia O’Brien, Peter Kenny and Jemma Borg for the pics.

Noir is one of those books you have to keep reading once you start…I’m not very good at reviewing friends’ work but please do read Peter Kenny’s review of Noir to get a feel for this intriguing collection. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about it.


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Robin Houghton 2021