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Poetry: Danger – Do Not Enter!

'Danger - Do not enter' sign in bookshopWhen we spotted this notice in Ottakar’s bookshop in Harrogate, back in 2004, we thought it was a good joke. But, like all the best jokes, it seems to contain a kernel of truth.

Friday’s session at Colpitts Poetry was the launch of Permanent Winter, a collection of poetry from Siberia published by Smokestack Books, and the readers were intended to be editors Yana Glembotskaya and Oleg Burkov, as well as publisher Andy Croft.

Yet despite traveling to Novosibirsk – and beyond, to Kemerovo, a four-hour journey on an unheated bus! – Andy Croft had to appear in Durham without his Siberian collaborators, since they had had problems obtaining visas, not from the Russian but from the British authorities.

Poetry is not only dangerous, it is also resourceful and well-connected: Michael Standen had used chess-playing contacts to reach a group of exchange students – from, by pure coincidence, Siberia – who kindly came and read poetry to us. So the evening was able to proceed, if not exactly as planned, with the traditional Colpitts candlelight readings, first from Andy Croft in English, then by a relay of guest readers, each representing one of the five poets collected in the book.

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