Pocket Horizon launch at the Science Museum

Simon Barraclough reading from Neptune Blue.

Simon Barraclough reading from Neptune Blue.

Thank you to all who joined us for Wednesday night’s Science Museum ‘Lates,’ where we enjoyed a brilliant evening of science-inspired poetry in the Museum’s Science in the 18th Century Gallery.

Katie Maggs, our essential curator and contact at the Museum, said they have never had so many people through that gallery on a ‘Lates’ night as we did on Wednesday.

We held the reading at the far end of the Gallery, which has a marvellous mural on one wall of ‘An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump‘ by Joseph Wright of Derby, a famous 18th-century painting which is used on many book covers and in many references to the ‘Age of Wonder’ (about which author Richard Holmes writes so well).

Richard Barnett reading from Pocket Horizon.

Richard Barnett reading from Pocket Horizon.

Simon Barraclough started us off with a fantastic reading from his ‘Planet Suite’ out of his book, Neptune Blue. He also told us about his next project, Sun Spots, which he’ll be working on in the coming year. Neptune Blue was published by Salt in 2011 and was just re-released in hardback this September.

We then had two readings of poems from Pocket Horizon, which is out now with Valley Press. It was a pleasure to have all of the contributors there, including our artist, Cassie, as well as Katie Maggs and her colleagues helping to show objects including an orrery, a canopic jar, and an artificial limb from the Science Museum’s collections.

So, how did Pocket Horizon come to be? A little bit of recent history may help set the scene:

This link is to Don Paterson reading his poem, ‘A Pocket Horizon,’ which he wrote for the Cambridge ‘Thresholds’ project.

Lorraine Mariner reading from Pocket Horizon.

Lorraine Mariner reading from Pocket Horizon.

The story of Don’s poem, and our anthology, is one that runs in parallel, or perhaps one might say it turns in a ‘widening gyre,’ and is down to a combination of serendipity and observation.

Why?

When I had the opportunity to meet Don and discuss our collaboration towards what would become Pocket Horizon (the anthology,) we met at the Whipple Museum, where we were given a ‘grand tour’ – as Don had never been to the Museum before. He knew that part of his ‘Thresholds’ residency required him to write a poem. I noticed that he was very keen on a particular object – the pocket horizon.

Eventually, we held the Masterclass workshop with Don and the contributing poets, all of whom are now published in Pocket Horizon.

When it came down to choose the title of the book, as Editor, I thought the name ‘pocket horizon’ would work well – it’s full of mystery, it lends itself to metaphor and poetical interpretation, and

– I thought Don might like it.

Dominic McLaughlin reading from Pocket Horizon.

Dominic McLaughlin reading from Pocket Horizon.

When he replied to my news that Valley Press would be publishing our book, it was with delight and surprise – he said he was writing about the pocket horizon, too!

(Gee, what do you know, I said…)

Though his poem is not part of our book (belonging to the Thresholds project, and our anthology being separate from that project,) I feel it completes the circle, as it were. And, frankly, it is a stunning poem. (It sounds to me as if it was recorded in the Whipple, too.)

So, thanks again, Don, for your generous introduction to our Pocket Horizon, for hosting our Masterclass back in January, and for writing your own poem, ‘A Pocket Horizon’.

Thanks to our contributors who read, including Sarah Westcott, Mick Delap, Lorraine Mariner, Malene Engelund, Dominic McLoughlin, and Richard Barnett –

Who also produced a brilliant podcast of all of the poets reading a selection of poems from PH, which you can listen to here.

Malene Engelund reading from Pocket Horizon.

Malene Engelund reading from Pocket Horizon.

And utmost thanks to our publisher, Jamie McGarry, who stayed on for the whole evening to sell our books, which he made sure are beautiful.

If you didn’t make it to the Museum, we’re planning more readings and events for 2014, including a poetry-reading-and-art-gallery-collaboration in Greenwich in January – so watch this space…

Sarah Westcott reading from Pocket Horizon.

Sarah Westcott reading from Pocket Horizon.

Mick Delap reading from Pocket Horizon.

Mick Delap reading from Pocket Horizon.

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