The Dark Side Of The Boon

Caroline, Emma, Gilli and a tall dark stranger (Photo Cara Cooper)

In my self styled role as the ‘Poet Lorry-Park’ I have gotten into some strange positions. Just imagine trying to reverse a fully loaded articulated sonnet on your blind side mirror over two lanes of Faber and Faber editors. Whilst this may sound a surreal event, it is not anything like as far fetched as my attendance at the Festival Of Romance in Bedford over the week-end. Imagine the ageing Sparrow outnumbered  100 to 1 by female Romance writers.

My attendance was encouraged by Emma, who needed a poet to drive the car, carry step ladders, a crate on wheels, a long length of wood and several heavy boxes of books. It transpires that to be a fiction author you also have to be a cross between a travelling circus and a troubadour.

Despite all my reservations I had fantastic weekend. Imagine my joy at standing before a bunch of attractive women reading my poem “Erectile Dysfunction”. One glance was enough for everyone to realise that I was not talking about any kind of personal experience. No one actually told me that, but it must have been quite obvious by my virile demeanour.

I met some great writers and a good number confessed to the old cock sparrow that they had written poetry. In truth, when you heard them reading their work, you could hear it. There is a lot of tosh talked about romance writers, mainly by the snob literati. These writers give it out from their hearts to serve a big spoonful of desire, passion, comedy and lust to their readers. Tell me a better reason to write.

And now, let me tell all you poets out there of my contact with the dark side of temptation. As poets we do not seek fame, recognition or book sales. We are pure intellectuals are we not? Yet, at the Festival I met with a young lady who, were I to be a writer of Romance, would be cast as the alluring courtesan of an Arabian oilygarch salmon fisherman. I will not name her because perhaps she spoke in a moment of emotional confusion. All the same, this Mills&Boon representative advised me that they would consider any genre of work including poetry for their new e book venture. I would have blinked, but my vanity prevented me from exposing my wrinkles. They don’t call me toxic Beau Brummie for nothing you know. Any poet out there wishing to explore this avenue, please get in touch. Dare the sparrow reach out for a crumb held in such a tempting hand?

Poet at work. (Photo Caroline Bell Foster)

I do want to acknowledge the writers who shared my table at the Book Fair. Not only did they have to endure a hard day on their feet, but also some old geezer rattling on about poetry. Cara Cooper, Caroline Bell Foster and Gilli Allan please accept my thanks and appreciation for your charming company.

Thanks also to the two actors who turned up at intervals to play out scenes from an historical novel. I thought them to be most frightfully good Sir. Also, there were two Thespians dressed as soldiers from a tin of Quality Street. It was immensely surprising to meet such fellows with their swords out in the Gents.

These events take a whole heap of effort to organise. The supremo was the author Kate Allan, but there were several selfless elves and reindeer. It was so kind of them to allow in an old poet with nothing but a few love poems. As if I did not know, the biggest truth to emerge from it all is that writing is a tough game at any level with many setbacks and struggles. These writers really work and try and try again. The market changes, the demographics of readership changes.  Secretly I was glad to be a poet – ethereal and uninterested in worldly success. As an ambition, it is far easier to achieve. I think I’m there.