Poems and old pals

Managed to sleep for six hours so consequently felt far more alive. Taking care of business this morning and met Robin and Catherine Smith on the train to Victoria late this afternoon as we travelled up to the Poetry Cafe. I'm learning a lot from Catherine and Robin and how they go about being poets, Catherine's ability to critique is impressive. A bite to eat in the cafe, till Siegfried Baber arrived having travelled from Bath. I felt quite twitchy wondering if anyone was going to turn up on a working Wednesday in January, but we actually had a full house.

Really good to see Rhona, who I'd not seen in person for many years, nor hear her read. She read from her latest book Ex-ville. Because Rhona was there, Nancy Mattson and Tammy Yoseloff, both old friends not seen for around 20 years came too, and it was great to see them, and made me feel as if I hadn't been entirely forgotten.

My reading was good, and went well. I mixed some new work in with the old. I was followed by Catherine reading from her new pamphlet containing a long rhymed poem The New Cockaigne which is ribald and splendid. I then introduced Rhona reflecting the fact that I'd first met her in 88, and so good to hear her read with her characteristic quiet authority. Then Siegfried who is in his early twenties, but is already an assured and impressive poet. Finally Robin read some of her new collection of poems about working in a corporation, which I think has the potential to be rather brilliant. People don't write poetry about work enough.

After the reading some of us went to the Cross Keys a pleasant boozer. It was busy so the group scattered a bit. I chatted with Rhona and a young American writer called Andrew, really nice guy, who was about to return to the US this weekend after a short stay here. We three had a really good laugh, augmented by two humorous photographers who were sharing our table.

A cab back to Victoria with Robin and Catherine, feeling quite pleased with ourselves in having pulled off a poetic coup. The ladies then leapt aboard the Lewes train and I caught one a little later to Brighton, nursing a can of Carlsberg and reading Ex-ville, which I greatly enjoyed. Arrived home some time after midnight, having grabbed a cab from Brighton station. A successful night.

Below Robin, me, Rhona, Catherine and Siegfried.