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Another Thing of Beauty

30/09/2009

Golden Hour Book iiIt was a week for anthologies last week, what with the Forward book arriving in the post and the launch of The Golden Hour Book Vol ii at Blackwell’s on South Bridge (the old James Thin shop, for those who remember that much-lamented Edinburgh institution of yore).

The GH book is a triumph, I have to say. Nicely designed and typeset, good paper, fits neatly into a coat pocket.  It brings to mind that wonderful series of pocketbooks from what became Platform Projects, though it’s a touch bigger than those. Like some of the pocketbooks series, it comes with a CD: 20 tracks by musicians who have appeared at the eponymous cabaret, as have all the contributing writers. All that and some superb writing for £7.99. Ye cannae loose.

The launch was in the CD and DVD section of Blackwells. Fatal. I was there early so I browsed and ended up succumbing to a CD of James MacMillan’s tremendous orchestral song cycle Quickening, which I’ve been wanting to get my hands on for several years. It’s one of his collaborations with Michael Symmons Roberts and, as such, essential.

That aside, it was a great opportunity to read with a couple of writers whose work I admire and respect — Robert Alan Jamieson and Alan Gillis;  excellent readers the two of them — and to hear work by two writers new to me: Julia Boll and Aiko Harman. Everyone read well, and Julia doubly so as she was reading in a second language, but RAJ’s reading from the anthologised excerpt of his new novel was a truly exceptional moment. Great to see several friends I’ve not seen in months, too, and to meet and chat with a few of the Creative Writing MSc students.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Benjamin Morris, who was up from Cambridge for the occasion. Ben is part of the Forest Publications outfit and has some lovely poems in the book. Among other things, we discussed the need for a new anthology of Scottish poetry (anent which, watch this space). It was an evening of openings, possibilities, the prospect of new things and existing plans gaining a fresh impetus. Such a pity I don’t live in Edinburgh and had to leave the party at the Forest to catch a train!

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