Poetry was something I mainly read only at school. Of course there were examples of more accessible poetry from writers like Roger McGough, Pam Ayers and John Cooper Clarke, but their occasional appearances, often awkwardly slotted into a few minutes of TV time seem to have declined over the years.
Recently I attended an online event called At Home With 4 Indies. This edition was dedicated to poet Brian Bilston and his new book of poetry Alexa, what is there to know about love? and broadcast via zoom at a relatively child-friendly 7.30pm. Obviously we weren’t going out anywhere anyway during Lockdown 3.
The reading was promoted via Facebook and included a copy of the book (sourced via one of the independent sellers) and probably signed by the author. I think the words were “he’s signed nearly all of them”. We will see!
Hosted by Emma Corfield-Walters the reading was attended by around 500 people who were able to ask questions of Brian via Zoom. We had hoped to watch the event using the wonders of screen mirroring via our Apple TV, but my failure to make that work meant we watched it quite comfortably on my phone instead.
More from East Midlands Bylines:
Alexa, what is there to know about love? is Brian’s third book of poetry and his popularity keeps growing. I have been following his semi-regular social media posts, releasing a poem here and there, for about a year now. I have always found his work diverse, entertaining, often thought-provoking, and when intended to be, funny.
Brian Bilston (actually a pseudonym) appears most at ease writing rather than being in front of a camera, but he provided a good solid hour or so of engaging and comforting culture. He fosters a Banksy-like approach to publicity (and out of deference to that I have pixelated his picture here!).
Brian did reveal insights into his politics (he would probably be a fan of Bylines) and his dislike for the Daily Mail, delivered via the medium of poetry, and the more I found about him, the more I found to like.
The Q&A session continued seamlessly, with Emma Corfield-Walters posing the questions from the audience and was as entertaining as the readings themselves.
In the absence of live arts events, the evening made a change from bingeing on boxsets. With 500 attendees and 500 books sold, I expect it was seen as a success by Brian and the 4 Indies team, too.
Brian Bilston’s Alex, what is there to know about love? is available now. Please do buy from an Independent Bookshop to help ensure there still are bookshops in the future. You can also keep up to date with The 4 Indies events via their Facebook Group.