Held in the empty, former premises of Clarkes Bookshop in Long Street, there was hardly standing room and guests spilled out onto the pavement.
Poets featured in the anthology read their own works. Hugh Hodge of Off-the-Wall-Live-Poetry fame and the former editor of New Contrast, read poems by Stephen Watson and Patrick Cullinan, to whom the anthology is dedicated.
We drank wine and feasted on yummy finger foods.
Mr Anthony Clarke, the founder of the shop way back in 1956, was remembered for his heroic stand during World War 2. As a gunner officer, he had held back from firing at the Italian town of Sansepolcro, where German soldiers were thought to be hiding. By not firing into the town, Anthony Clarke saved from destruction the magnificent fresco by Piero de la Francesca, The Resurrection. It was appropriate to launch Africa! My Africa! in his shop, now empty of books, and to fill it with live poetry. (The books and the old atmosphere of Clarkes Bookshop have moved down the road to 199 Long Street)
The launch proved again that poetry is good for the soul. It should be read at bus stops and in taxis. Politicians should definitely be given books of verse to move their minds and hearts toward deep and inspiring things.
Yay! For the launch. Thanks to everyone involved. Three cheers for Henrietta and Isabel of Clarkes for hosting us and for the excellent wine!
Comment from Pearlie Theron: “This was such a fun launch. I was there early, coming in with the wine delivery, but before the chairs and snacks and mircrophone arrived. It felt poignant, walking about the empty shop, with its walls devoid of shelves and books. What a mercy that Henrietta Dax & Isabel Essery managed to score Number 199 Long Street and to take the entire atmosphere of Clarkes with them, lock-stock-and-a-billion-books, so to speak.
“I opened a bottle of Dragonridge Sangiovese and drank a few glasses on my own, toasting these two fine ladies and the visionary Anthony Clarke while waiting for Patricia & Hugh to arrive with all the launch paraphernalia.
“Africa! My Africa! is a definitive collection: Evocative. Real. Pulsing. Resonant. I recommend that you keep a copy to dip into at all hours of the day and night.”
Photos by Gaelen Pinnock