Thoughts on London and what lies ahead

Reading at Polari Literary Salon at Southbank Centre with (from left) Dustin Lance Black, Angela Chadwick, Paul Burston and Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (Photo by Sarah Sanders)

I spent two amazing weeks in London earlier this month. It was my first time back to the UK since 2014, and I was worried that the city would have changed so much that I wouldn't recognize it. Yes, there are more skyscrapers, Battersea Power Station is becoming a luxury mixed-use development and Crossrail (or the "Elizabeth line" as it will be called) is still under construction, but it also felt fabulously the same. I slipped right back into the hustle and bustle of it all and it was fantastic to be there again.

With Peter, Krys and Dave at windy Dungeness. 
Some of the highlights: going to the Trump protest in Westminster, taking the Eurostar for a daytrip to Paris to see poet friends Karen Head, Cecilia Woloch and Elizabeth Iannaci, going to the London Rare Book Fair with pal Mecca Ibrahim, visiting Dungeness and Derek Jarman's gravesite with my friends Peter, Krys and Dave, seeing poets Dave Bonta and Elizabeth Amato at the Poetry Cafe, the Edvard Munch exhibition at the British Museum, and having tea with the always thoughtful and eloquent John Carder Bush.

The biggest highlight was reading with Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black, who has a new memoir called Mama's Boy, at the Polari Literary Salon at Southbank Centre. Angela Chadwick read from her debut novel XX and Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott read from her entertaining novel Swan Song. Paul Burston really knows how to curate an evening and is the most dapper host. He's also got a new thriller, The Closer I Get, which is getting rave reviews. It was wonderful to be in such company and the audience was spectacularly responsive and attentive. I was satisfied at how well the poems from Midnight in a Perfect World were received and that Foyles sold so many copies.

Introducing Dame Colleen.
I must also add a word about my friend, poet and novelist Agnes Meadows, who always so kindly puts me up at her flat while I'm in London. One of my favorite bits of this trip was our evening trips up to N1 Centre for coffee and writing time at Pret (love the flat whites and brownies). I wrote seven new poems during our evening retreats, and I am chuffed. Agnes also challenged me to go in drag to Loose Muse, the open mic for women she's been hosting for 16 years. Men are welcome to read, but they must come in drag. No man had ever taken Agnes up on the offer until I agreed to do it. My alter ego was named Dame Colleen.

Now that I'm stateside again, there are quite a few more readings and events to promote Midnight in a Perfect World, including A Seat in the Shade in Athens, GA on July 23, a poetry workshop at the Fayette County Library on Aug. 24, a featured reading with Karen Head and Dan Veach at Decatur Book Festival over Labor Day weekend, Broadleaf Writers Conference and a return to New York for the Rainbow Book Fair. More details on all these readings soon, and be sure to check out the Events link at the top of the blog.

With Karen and Cecilia in Paris. 


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