Town. I think most bookshop launches are much the same: glass of wine or two, quietish crowd, the opportunity to hear writers reading their work from a few feet away. It's a formula that probably shouldn't be messed-with too much.
Poet John Hartley Williams was over from Germany, reading some of his poems which will appear in the next Ambit (207, out in January) for reasons that escape me. They centred on an eastern-sounding empire, and reminded me a little of some of Alisdair Gray’s work, and were very good. He also read them with a hint of performance, which always helps.
I also liked Joanna Ingham’s work, and one poem in particular, about the sinister aspects of communication between genders at primary school.
Ambit prose editor Geoff Nicholson read out his Frequently Asked Questions – (sorry this title is incomplete, but) points to the nature of the piece, hardly a story, rolling out those questions people, or computers, ask, in the full knowledge that people think they know the answer, never know the answer, or will not be helped in any way by knowing the answer. It which was slightly surreal, and very funny.
I was told Ambit have accepted my short story The Pitch for the next edition, which will be out in January. See my Out Soon page here:
http://www.nicksweeneywriting.com/out-soon.html to learn more about the story.
Ambit had its Arts Council funding withdrawn a few years ago, and needs all the support it can get. It’s been going since the late 1950s, so is no ordinary small press magazine. See its website here: http://www.ambitmagazine.co.uk
The Owl Bookshop is at 209 Kentish Town Road, London NW5, and is a great independent bookshop. (Actually, just found out it’s been bought by Daunt Books, but will continue under its existing name – Daunt seem to be okay, though – a small chain.) The Owl still has the atmosphere of an indie, anyway.
Ambit's prose editor Geoff Nicholson is the author of novels and non-fiction including Gravity's Volkswagen, The Lost Art of Walking and The Hollywood Dodo.
John Hartley Williams has published twelve collections of poetry. His latest collection, Café des Artistes(Cape), was published in 2009.
Joanna Ingham's work has been published in various magazines. As a student at
Birkbeck College, she won the Michael Donaghy Prize for Poetry 2009.