Tuesday, December 18, 2012

StreetBooks stand at the Book Fair

This is a short blog about the Saturday book fair in Cowley Road.
Frank Egerton set up the Streetbooks stall very attractively, with the two novels currently on sale sharing the space. An informative piece - a kind of expansion of the blurb - was easy to read and made it possible for people to know more about what they were getting.

I'd printed a free sheet of three Edward Thomas poems - Adlestrop inevitably, which most people knew, The Owl and Thaw. It's reproduced below. And of course we had Marc's May Hill picture too.

Most sales were to people I knew as they had used the opportunity to buy a copy, very kindly, but there were half-a-dozen or so to people I didn't know and that was particularly gratifying.

The fair itself was almost entirely book-related with local publishers chiefly selling non-fiction works, some local, some not. David Fickling was selling their fairly new children's comic Phoenix - I bought one for the grandchildren; interesting to see what they make of it. Korky Paul was there too.

I spoke to someone who had self-published, using a professional type-setter but doing everything else herself. We were both aware that fiction by an unknown author is more difficult to sell than non-fiction, and that endorsements will be very important.

Three Poems
I like Edna Longley's comment on our old friend Adlestrop:
''The double off-rhyme 'mistier'/'Gloucestershire' , the repeated 'farther' and  'shire',  make the poem's echoes linger beyond its last words."

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.ยบ

The Owl
Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved;
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.
Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry
Shaken out long and clear upon the hill,
No merry note, nor cause of merriment,
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.
And salted was my food, and my repose,
Salted and sobered, too, by the bird's voice
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.

Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed

And saw from elm-tops, delicate as flowers of grass,
What we below could not see, Winter pass.

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