Picnics! When I think of picnics, my first thoughts don’t run to poetry. They run to cake. And sandwiches. And fizzy wine. This is unusual in itself because my thoughts often run to poetry. So, editing a mini-anthology of picnic poems was going to be, I thought, a bit of a challenge. Especially as it was winter when I started thinking about it.
In my introduction to Ten Poems for a Picnic, a new summer Candlestick Press title, I talk about the picnics I’ve enjoyed over the years, in whatever season and whatever weather (rain, snow, drought), so I won’t say too much more here, except that the common element of them all is love. I think picnics are about love. If you’ve sat on the edge of Loch Lomond and watched a pound of butter melt in the midday sun, and the cheese and oatcakes you’ve bought to go with it curl up and die, you’ll know what I mean. Why would you put yourself through the heat, the wasps the sand in the sarnies if it wasn’t for love. Love for the summer, for the fresh air and outdoors (which, so starved of them as we are, is a picnic in themselves!). Love for the places, the experiences. And most of all, love for the company. Those we share these moments with. I thought about this anthology not as a collection of poems about food and drink (although that’s there too), but as a collection to share with friends, family, lovers. In a way, love poems. They’re the poems I’d like to read to someone while they ate strawberries and drank Prosecco under the shade of a beautiful oak tree or plane. The poems I’d like to listen to (while I drank Prosecco too!).
On Saturday 11 August, 1.30 – 3.30pm, Candlestick Press are launching Ten Poems for a Picnic in the most secret garden in the centre of Nottingham City. The Walled Garden of Bromley House Library. It’s one of my favourite places in Nottingham. It’s a stone’s throw away from Nottingham’s world famous city beach, so you can spend an hour or so building sandcastles and chilling on a deck chair, then bring your Pickernick Basket over to Bromley House to listen to some beautiful poems. My selection has poets from Scotland, England, Australia, Iran, America, Wales (including Gertrude Stein, Mimi Khalvati, Edwin Morgan, Frank O’Hara, Wayne Burrows, Edna St Vincent Millay, Katherine Gallagher, Jeremy Hooker and Peter Philips) and we’ll have some lovely local poets to read them. And (I love this bit) if you have a picnic poem you’d like to read, you CAN! In the Open Mic slots!
You’ll also get a free glass of Pimms! Poetry, Pimms, and Picnics! What more could you ask for?
For more information, have a look at the flier (click on the image above). Entry is FREE but you do need to let Candlestick know because numbers are limited. To let them know you’re coming, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call them on 0115 967 4455 or visit the Facebook event page on @poetrycandle
Shinjiku Park Hanami picnic photo credit: Martin Parker