Friday, 29 November 2013
THE PORTICO LIBRARY POETRY PRIZE
The Portico library in Manchester was a real discovery; I'd been Commended in its Poetry Prize ( the Portico Prize, for fiction and non-fiction, is much more well-known) and decided I'd go to the awards evening. So glad I did. I've never had such a warm welcome at an awards ceremony before; the three librarians treated each of us as if we were the most marvellous guest ever to enter their doors, and I mean marvellous, not important; gave us cheery permission to explore the 2 high-ceilinged rooms that comprise the library, and generously plied us with wine and absolutely out of this world food. Such generosity! Between being enclosed by extremely tall stacks of brown-leather ledgers and impressive tomes ( this was where Roget of Thesaurus fame used to come and meet his fellows), the abundance of food, the warm hospitality of staff and competition judge Mandy Coe, it felt as if we were at Fezziwig's Christmas party in Dickens' "Christmas Carol"! Everyone circulated, the poets all met and signed each other's small anthology of the winning poems.
There is a wind clock on the far wall of the main library and a regular time clock opposite it : this was so that anyone with shipping interests could keep an eye on probable sailing times on the Ship Canal. I was very interested in this as my son's office is in what was the former ship's chronometer testing room at the Greenwich Observatory and recently I had a wonderful guided tour through the Observatory under my son's tuition.
To return to the Portico Poetry prize: this is only in its second year of running; Lynn, the Chair of the library, is keen for it to become much more established and has plans for excellent outside links and support. If you are a poet reading this watch out for it in future. I was very pleased to be featured in its list in its second year.
And if you're not keen on browsing wonderul old books on all manner of things Lancastrian and Mancunian, in the most cosy and comfortable reading room, then pop in for lunch there- you won't be disappointed. The Portico is on Mosley St, just beyond the Manchester Art Gallery. The entrance is just down the side street- ring the bell and enter a hidden Aladdin's cave of marvellous books and wonderfully friendly people.