Second Place Rosette

BRITAIN-PILEI come from Gloucestershire, County of Cheeserollers, so I know what I’m talking about when it comes to Britain’s peculiar customs and rituals. So do The Emma Press – they’ve published a new anthology full of poems about ’em. Mine’s about the compulsion to fill municipal fountains with Fairy Liquid on Midsummer Eve, but there are also poems here of  maypole dancing, mehndi painting and medical prescriptions. Launched later this month, but you can buy one here.


A Curious Joy Forever

cabinet of curiosities
A classic Cabinet of Curiosities. We can’t guarantee a crocodile skull in ours.

If the sun’s out and there’s a garden to sit in, my Keatsian friend Mike Sims and I like nothing better than putting together an afternoon of readings from Keats’ poems and letters for the delight of a Romantically-inclined audience. Our fifth annual ‘A Joy Forever‘ summer event is coming up at Keats House in Hampstead on 1 July. This year, our theme is The Cabinet of Curiosity – we’ll be creating an imaginary museum of the artifacts Keats owned, thought and wrote about, and captioning them with your best loved poems and writings.

‘a little claret-wine cool out of a cellar a mile deep – with a few or a good many ratafia cakes’ were ingredients in Keats’ recipe for a good life, as he wrote in a letter to his sister Fanny. We’ll provide the equivalents, and you can buy tickets here.


susan cooper letterWell, that accidental Twitter book club was one of the most extraordinary gathering of the bookish tribes I have ever been involved with – thousands and thousands of people all over the world reading a 40 year old children’s novel and responding with music, palindromes, biscuits, sculptures and – most moving of all – parents’ accounts of sharing the book with a second generation of readers.

This is the note that Susan Cooper sent to Robert MacFarlane (she’s happy for it to be shared) and reading it, the nine year old me had to be revived with burning feathers.

Thank you so much to everyone who took part, especially to Rob for his boost to the initial idea, Keith who ran the accompanying #theartisrising sideline, Jon who soundtracked us and Canada-based The Dark is Rising Readathon for their support. Here’s the mention we got in The Guardian, and I’m doing an interview with Australian National Radio about the project next week, joining the Signs all the way round the world.