Keats and Me

Tonight I am doing a reading  at Hampstead Library on Keats Grove right next to Keats House – the house were the writer Keats lived in Hampstead.  Did I mention that Keats lived there.  It is dark. Pitch Black. And I arrive by bike  and train. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to go to a reading on a freakin   bike – how cool is that. 

Only days  earlier the poet Martin Espada   was telling me at The South bank how the  writer Adrian Mitchell  – editor of Paul McCartney’s book of poems –  had taken him for a walk from here Keats
House to Karl Marx’s grave stone.  Did I   mention Keats house?

A person whom I have had a professional  relationship with   for some years Sonia Winifred now Acting Head of Camden Libraries is  here. Sonia is strong determined and has a smile that lights up the   night. She has a direct mission to get writers into her libraries,   Sonia is also  indirectly responsible for my meeting the GF. Some   years ago – about two   – I read at Camden libraries with a   wonderful man called Simon Hattenstone who told me about his friend who I   should meet which I did and the rest is mystery.

The reading is wonderful. I meet old friends in the audience    and new ones. Readings in libraries    are wonderful. There’s no artifice – there’s books and the writer and the   people. Library readings are THE BEST!    Shit where else would a writer want to be when talking about his or her   work.   I have read in ornate theatres, art deco   theatres, theatres that go back to the time of Dickens and theatres that were    built with 22nd century thinking. But the library is a think of  wonder. 

And librarians are quiet anarchists,   gently discovering ideas   and presenting them quietly for people to find. You think librarians   are boring   or stuffy. The only reason they want you to be quiet in the library is   because  of the noise, the riotous noise,  coming from the books! Thinking    of librarians as cattle ranches in the wild west – except the  stampeding cattle are not cattle at all but  hippogriffs and    dragons,  revolutionary ideas and songs and angry poems and  stories and the library is The Ranch! Go figure.

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