Monday, 28 November 2011

Aston Cockaine, Derbyshire's Austin Powers: and other stuff

    I've been doing bits of research into ballads, which have taken me to the wonderful 19th century collection of Derbyshire ballads This includes a ballad about  Henry V, to whom the King of France sent, not the tribute that was due to him in gold, but 10 tons of tennis balls instead. Likewise references to the wonderfully named poet from Ashbourne, Aston Cockaine (yes, surely he is the seventeenth century Austin Powers), an aristocrat with a fondness for gambling, connections to Izaak Walton, and writers such as Massinger, Lovelace, and John Donne. In these days of poetry collections with a fondness for themes, or themed sections, here's a glass to celebrate his "Small Poems of Divers Sorts" - as someone who loves variety, and surprises, a collection that has divers sorts of poems is still, to me, the kind I am readiest to jump into. Or maybe it's just the  pleasure of random dipping that is so fresh and freedom-flying.

    I'm going to be reading next Sunday at Scarthin's bookshop in Cromford - a very informal sort of reading - stay and listen - or drop in while you're shopping. Starting at about 1.00pm, and for just 20 minutes or maybe half an hour at the most. Free, and all are welcome, and the soups, cakes and other cafe treats are of course delicious.  This is to "launch" (hmmm, much more informal actually) a new poem for the bookshop that I've written. Do hope you can come along.
    To just get a flavour of the wonder that is Scarthin's, if you don't know it, start by visiting  It calls itself the most enjoyable bookshop in England, and it's not wrong!

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