Book Launch at the Poetry Cafe

The Flavour of Parallel

Nigel Humphreys' second poetry collection

(Article by Catherine Edmunds)

 Gruntler David Parry

Jonathan Wood of Arbor Vitae Press







First of all, a word about the Gruntlers. I’d never heard of this lot, but they appear to be an esoteric bunch of poets, musicians and philosophers who stand for ‘beauty, truth and freedom’. Why ‘Gruntlers’? Think disgruntled. Then think the opposite.

They have a slot once a month at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden, and for April, were delighted to present the launch of Nigel Humphreys' ‘The flavour of parallel’.

The evening began with an introduction from David Parry, who spoke at length on the place of poetry in British life since time immemorial and the importance of the really great British poets. He had no difficulty placing Nigel firmly in this tradition.

Next, Nigel’s publisher Jonathan Wood of Arbor Vitae Press spoke about why he publishes Nigel. When you buy the book, you’ll be able to read his introduction, where he talks about poetic creativity in general, and Nigel’s writing in particular. Fascinating stuff.

The sheer erudition of these guys is SO refreshing. I’d travelled down the previous day on the train sitting opposite some young women who, despite being university graduates, managed to spend over two hours talking facile nonsense. It was a great relief to find out that some people have brains and know how to use them.

Then we had the pleasure of something that must be unique to Gruntlers events – poems in both the original (English) and in translation - Sanan Aly read one of Nigel’s poems in both Azeri and Turkish versions.

At last Nigel was welcomed onto the ‘stage’, where he gave us a selection of poems, including some from his last collection, ‘The Hawk’s Mewl’. I’d never heard Nigel read before, but Kay’s right – he’s one of the best. No question.

Next we had some music. Azerbaijani-Iranian Babak Bakh Tavar proved to be extraordinarily proficient on the saz (a type of long-necked lute) and also sang like an angel. I was transfixed. He spoke briefly, in broken English, of the universality of music as a common language for all peoples. I was convinced.

We then had some more of Nigel’s poetry in another unexpected language. Estonian Valentine Moon read in both English and Russian. I thought the Russian was especially convincing, but then it’s a more familiar sounding language to me than either Turkish or Azeri.

Next came a tribute from Nigel's friend Tina Warren, who’d collected together a lovely bunch of accolades from their writing group in Wales. All the quotes were, quite rightly, highly complimentary. Tina spoke briefly in Welsh at the end, adding to the cornucopia of languages heard during the evening.

Finally Nigel returned to read from the new collection and blow our socks off with the compassion, skill, exuberance, wit and sheer power of his poetry. A fabulous ending to an extraordinary evening.


Nigel Humphreys

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