I made a friend today. Or, truth be told, I had the great pleasure of seeing a good chunk of like minded peoples’ efforts rewarded, there dreams filling out – not exactly coming to fruition, but putting out enough light and colour to make their world, mine, and the world of the people we love a brighter, more hopeful place to live.
I’d first heard of Tell It Slant, the new pop up poetry bookshop, currently flowering on Renfrew Street in Glasgow, when Ellen MacAteer – poet, songwriter, and fellow Clydebuilt mentee – posted a poll on Facebook. She wanted direction around various options for the name of a new venture. When I was swirling around this discussion, ‘The Glasgow Poetry Bookshop’ was the lead contender, so I got the jist of her efforts straightforwardly enough.
So last week, when I bumped into Ellen briefly at Chris Agee’s excellent Literary Lunchtime at Cafe Gandolfi. The last of this year’s series featured John Burnside, Chris Agee himself and Alexander Hutchison, who mentored Ellen in Clydebuilt, who routinely gives and gives and gives, on this occasion giving an characteristically excellent performance, as did his stage mates. Well, I was delighted to hear, amongst other things, that Tell It Slant had made its first sale.
And even more pleased to hear it was to someone outside of the normal poetry world. The pull of something new and fresh, the sight of Ellen and Matt’s flowering with all its promise, enticed a neighbour in, who couldn’t resist the scent of a well dreamt truth.
Today, they made another sale, one of quite a few from what I can make out, this time to someone very much inside the ‘normal poetry world’, which of course is about as normal as any other normal world – ie not very, and entirely so at one and the same time.
Of course, I’d been intending to visit Tell It Slant, and for longer than that I’d been intending to visit One Cube Or Two, an artisan bakery and coffee shop which first appropriated that little corner of Glasgow where the dreams are coming true, but a bit of an impetus never did hurt, and never will.
And that came this morning. Somewhere on my breakfast-time seine netting of available comment in the social media regarding What Was Going On, I happened upon something from Sam Tongue. Another Clydebuilter, Sam is co-founder of fourfold, a new magazine, issue one of which is on sale at Tell It Slant, Aye Aye Books in the CCA, and at the Scottish Poetry Library.
And fourfold was another seed which had been lying, waiting for the sun to come – Katherine Sowerby of (guess what) Clydebuilt fame, and recipient of a New Writer’s Award from the Scottish Book Trust had outlined the venture to me at the New Writing Scotland 31 Launch. fourfold is a broadsheet publication which delivers four poems from four poets across four pages – all in one sheet, folded to accommodate, and release, the resonances across different poets and the distinctions between them, fourfold is a genuine Objet D’Art.
So I couldn’t resist locking my screen, donning scarf, cap, bag and coat and pushing on out into the midday drizzle of Glasgow today. And I’m glad I did. When I walked in, this little corner of Glasgow was full, full of poetry. I could have blown a weeks wages easy, but I settled for the fourfold I’d come in for, and a copy of Night’s Fresh Velvet from Amy Anderson, also of Clydebuilt. I’d missed a couple of Amy’s launch readings to my chagrin, and am relieved to have a copy of her debut at last.
The joint launch of Tell It Slant and fourfold1 takes place on Friday 13th December 2013, at 134 Renfrew Street (go up the ramp and turn left). That’s tomorrow night as I write. And it could well be tonight as you read.
Whichever, the shop is instantly the number one go to place for poetry books in Glasgow (and much more besides). And fourfold, this is the first time I’ve written about it. It will be a feature in my literary life, I can tell. And also in yours. Aren’t we the lucky ones.