Ian McMillan at Leicester Central Library

If Leicester Libraries’ Book Doc Alison Dunne hadn’t shared Thursday’s event on facebook, I’d have missed it – so glad I didn’t!  An evening of poetry with belly laughs.

The Barnsley Bard set the mood with his own introduction (to Alison’s welcome).  Taking a literal view of poets as collectors of language, as writers who take notice, he took great pride in showing his audience numerous notices he’d purlioned on his travels; the unintentionally humorous, sparks that light this poet’s fire.

Master of the anecdotal, McMillan regaled us with hilarious tales of his travels as a working poet.  With references to Crackerjack’s Peter Glaze and novelty cruet sets, I warmed to him even more.  His Junior School days sounded just like mine, too: when kids were encouraged to be creative, spent hours writing stories, engaging in art activities (happy days…) – but I digress.  Ian read poems from his autobiographical collection, Talking Myself Home.  Borrowed, read, loved it.

Why make it up, when amazing things happen to us all the time?  A recurrent theme; the poet explained the provenance of certain lines in his poems (oh, but his art lies in the crafting).  He invited poets to note down all the things that happened when they got home that night and laid odds on them being the stuff poems are borne out of.  (My black cat froze – in a paper fiesta, she’d edited the newspaper…).

After an hour came Hard Questions From The Floor before homework was set.  Selecting books at random from the shelves, Ian McMillan invited poets to write a poem entitled ‘Sunday Lunch,’ including the lines ‘without their cell walls’ and ‘earth-moving gang and plant,’ ending with ‘pre-heat the oven.’

Another inspirational evening, another pamphlet for my coffee shop reading stock (this lady’s handbag is capacious).  My only gripe: I can’t read/subvocalize McMillan-style!

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