Keats and Me
Tonight I am doing a reading at Hampstead Library on Keats Grove right next to Keats House – the house were the writer Keats lived in Hampstead. Did I mention that Keats lived there. It is dark. Pitch Black. And I arrive by bike and train. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to go to a reading on a freakin bike – how cool is that.
Only days earlier the poet Martin Espada http://www.martinespada.net/ was telling me at The South bank how the writer Adrian Mitchell - editor of Paul McCartney's book of poems - http://www.rippingyarns.co.uk/adrian/ had taken him for a walk from here KeatsHouse to Karl Marx's grave stone. Did I mention Keats house?
A person whom I have had a professional relationship with for some years Sonia Winifred now Acting Head of Camden Libraries is here. Sonia is strong determined and has a smile that lights up the night. She has a direct mission to get writers into her libraries, Sonia is also indirectly responsible for my meeting the GF. Some years ago – about two – I read at Camden libraries with a wonderful man called Simon Hattenstone who told me about his friend who I should meet which I did and the rest is mystery.
The reading is wonderful. I meet old friends in the audience and new ones. Readings in libraries are wonderful. There’s no artifice – there’s books and the writer and the people. Library readings are THE BEST! Shit where else would a writer want to be when talking about his or her work. I have read in ornate theatres, art deco theatres, theatres that go back to the time of Dickens and theatres that were built with 22nd century thinking. But the library is a think of wonder.
And librarians are quiet anarchists, gently discovering ideas and presenting them quietly for people to find. You think librarians are boring or stuffy. The only reason they want you to be quiet in the library is because of the noise, the riotous noise, coming from the books! Thinking of librarians as cattle ranches in the wild west - except the stampeding cattle are not cattle at all but hippogriffs and dragons, revolutionary ideas and songs and angry poems and stories and the library is The Ranch! Go figure.