Vanity Fair… no, it’s not just a book you should have read!
There were poetry readings, art on sale, Iain Sinclair (left), spit roast pig, a Corona van, poetry bingo, DJs, free books, shirtless men, sweaty bodies and a policeman looking bemused. Yes, it was Vanity Fair, Clerkenwell’s Street Party… and the end of a fantastic Clerkenwell 2005.
In the upstairs room of the Green Pub, with the sunshine, music and laughter from the street fair spilling in, the great and good of self-publishing gathered to discuss doing it yourself. Hosted by Kit Hammond curator of Publish and be Damned, a packed room of self-publishing enthusiasts, readers, writers and ordinary drinkers listened to ‘Good for Nothing’s Neil Boorman, Andy Ching from ‘Donut Press’, Micalef from Sniffin’ Glue, Tim Wells publisher of Rising Magazine and Richard Marshall of 3AM (www.3ammagazine.com), the online magazine discuss what made them set up their ‘zines.
“There is a crisis in publishing… the top ten bestsellers is the way the industry views itself,” Richard said, “so if you’re a first time writer or struggling, outlets (such as ’zines and online sites) play a very important role”. Whilst Neil’s goal was to “make money to buy new trainers and shop at Selfridges” (and why not?), Tim’s Rising has since earned the heady moniker of ‘the Reader’s Wives of Poetry’. Andy, inspired by Rising (and possibly hoping for his own heady moniker) wanted to create something that you could “read in bed with someone”. All the guys had one overriding goal and that was to get as much new, good writing out there, even if they had to re-mortgage their homes, live in cardboard boxes and exist on less sleep than Thatcher.
After this inspirational talk, the self-publishing fair began, with free poetry readings from, amongst others, Micalef (“Shane McGowan stole my pillow”), Tim Wells, the caustic wit of Lee Nelson, Steve Clark reading from his first novel ‘Chasing Tails’ (who, Richard, our host admitted, ‘proves you can get self-published work into bookshops if you work for them. You can check out his website on www.tailchasing.com), Anne Brooks’ sensual poetry, and Clerkenwell’s poetry celebrity Agnes Meadows. The thing about self-publishing is that it’s driven by a desire to see your work out there, for better or worse, and I was struck by the cool bravery of all our self-publishers.
In between all of this, the street party was taking place which lasted well into the summer evening. If you were there yesterday or stumbled onto this cool, happening corner of Clerkenwell, then you know how fab it was. A big thanks to all of you who visited and made it so great, to all those who took part in the events and especially, to all those unsung, unpaid volunteers who stood at doors, picked up glasses, stacked chairs and spent hours and hours pounding the streets giving out the flyers which got so many people in. Clerkenwell is the first literary festival to have its own blog, so hope you too enjoyed reliving it online!
Can’t wait for next year…