Friday, July 09, 2010
Edge Hill Prize and other gatherings
To a sultry-hot London yesterday and Blackwell on Charing Cross Road for the Edge Hill short story prizegiving. Winner was Jeremy Dyson for his collection The Cranes that Build the Cranes. Robert Shearman, who was also shortlisted in 2008, won the Reader's Prize, awarded by a panel of students, for his wonderfully surreal and warm-hearted collection, Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical. Many congratulations! It was a lovely do, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially meeting in person for the first time Nuala Ni Chonchuir (above, right) whose wonderful collection Nude was shortlisted - and who will be visiting here next Wednesday with her amazing novel You. Also lovely to meet fellow-Salt author Weena Poon at last, and to meet up again with so many literary friends including prizewinner Robert Shearman, Sunday-Times short story competition shortlister Adam Marek, Salt poet Robert Sheppard (above, centre), my lovely publisher Jen Hamilton-Emery (above, left), and my long-time friend and colleague Ailsa Cox, the brains behind the Edge Hill Prize. It was a whole afternoon and evening of catch-ups: Beforehand I met Salt author Jay Merill for coffee, which was lovely, and I got her to sign my new copy of her latest Salt book God of the Pigeons, which I read on the train down - great voices, and haunting stories. After the prizegiving we went to the Phoenix arts club across the road, where the launch had been taking place of three new Salt poetry collections, The Method Men by David Briggs, Snow Calling by Agnieszka Studzinska and Mark Granier's Fade Street, so I bumped into a clutch of poets, including my good blogging friend Katy Evans-Bush.
I've been worn out today, perhaps partly because I ended up running more or less half the distance back to Euston in order to catch the last decent train back to Manchester (the one after it, at 10 o'clock, takes over 7 hrs - now maybe I'm turning into an old blimp, but really, what's the world coming to: you used to be able to catch one at 11 and still get back to Stockport by half one!). I had thought that I could walk the distance in half an hour - badly underestimated, I began to realize as I was half-way - and ended up sprinting and caught the train by the skin of my teeth: I belted down the platform while the guard stood flicking her flag thing VERY impatiently and glared like mad, and the moment I stepped onto the train it started moving. Phew.
Really, I may as well have stayed in London overnight for the energy I've got left today - none for writing. The main problem, though, was that there was drink, and I'm not used to it, as for the past few months I've been mostly abstaining - partly to be healthy and more recently for the sake of the novel-writing - but hey it was a real celebration! And I'm not exactly hung over, but I certainly don't feel full of energy or mentally alert.
Ah well. It was worth it. And from now on I should be able to settle down to uninterrupted writing... (Touch wood; or maybe I shouldn't speak too soon...)
Here's Ailsa with winner Jeremy Dyson behind her: