Monday, 10 November 2014

North West Poets at the Portico - matching books to poems

Emma and I have recently had a meeting with Lindsey Holland of North West Poets to explore the possibilities for collaboration between NWP and the Portico. We looked at holding a regular series of poetry events in the Portico, to include workshops and readings, but also using the library as an inspirational venue where leading north west poets could meet and work on a theme, such as geology or botany. I’m excited at the prospect of being able to use the book collection to support events of this kind.

There’s more thinking to be done on both sides, but we have provisionally agreed to hold a launch event in January or February for Andrew Forster’s third collection, Homecoming [Smith Doorstop 2014]. Forster, who is Literature Officer at the Wordsworth Trust, recently read from Homecoming during the Manchester Literature Festival, now being hosted at venues around the city. 

Most of the poems in the book relate to the north west, and many are about Wordsworth, so this will give us an opportunity to showcase some of our rich collection of material related to Wordsworth – I’ll be rooting for The Letters of Charles Lamb, and Benjamin Robert Haydon: correspondence and table-talk, with a memoir by his son, Frederick Wordsworth Haydon. Haydon senior painted what is possibly the most well-known portrait of Wordsworth, now on loan to the Wordsworth Trust from the National Portrait Gallery.
There’s also Thomas de Quincey, who famously ran away from school in Manchester, eventually washing up as the tenant of Dove Cottage after Wordsworth had left it. The Portico has a copy of de Quincey’s Sketches Critical and Biographical. Forster’s Homecoming includes a poem entitled De Quincey’s letter to Johnny Wordsworth 1809. 

Here’s an extract from it:

    He’s taken such care to make it legible:
    the faded copper ink neatly blocked,
    a contrast to his Confessions, where words
    are splashed on paper and blurred by winestains.

It’ll be interesting to see what Forster makes of the Portico’s early editions.

Sheila Wild
Chair of Book Committee, The Portico Library