I’m in this anthology, the distilled essence of Coventry’s legendary Fire and Dust poetry nights.
I wouldn’t claim to have been the most regular attendee at their monthly events. Working full-time as a lecturer tends to get in the way of a rich and fulfilling social life, especially during marking time!
But I always felt welcome there, as indeed does everyone who has read their work at Fire and Dust. Unlike some poetry groups, F+D always fostered a very open, supportive and warm environment. It is the opposite of elitist, in other words.
However, that doesn’t equate to lower standards. Every event they ever ran had an excellent contemporary poet headlining, and the open mic sessions were astonishing in the range of different voices, bewilderingly eclectic at times as this anthology indicates, but always engaging, intriguing, thought-provoking and passionate.
I never saw anyone bored at Fire and Dust, and it remains one of the things I miss about England. And it’s proven to be a real incubator of talent too, with some pretty big names cutting their teeth there over the past near-decade.
So if you ever wondered how good the quality of contemporary poetry in the English West Midlands is, you should simply pop along, virtually or in person (they do both online and meatspace events now). Failing that, buying this anthology is the next best thing!