We were so grateful that Pam Ayres came to open the festival. The church was full, and she performed brilliantly - her timing was spot-on, her rapport with the audience immediate and excellent. What I love about her work is that she brings poetry to so many people who would normally run a mile at the word 'poetry'. She is witty and acute and warm. She is also a very kind supporter of independent bookshops and festivals.
The rest of the evening was like a local, community version of Pam Ayres - A Funny Way With Words drew in large numbers of people from Charlbury - the book was written and produced there, published by Jon Carpenter. And Kathy Clugston held everything together in the best possible BBC style.
Peter McDonald and Patrick McGuinness in the bookshop gave a totally different reading of their work to a very good audience (including three small boys, one of whom quizzed Patrick McGuinness on his use of a poetic alter-ego), I was very sad to miss the readings by MsCellaneous as I had to collect someone from the station - I heard it went very well and we all ate the cakes all weekend!
Alice Oswald was extraordinary. She asked for the lights to be dimmed, and we sat in the dusk as she recited Memorial - I have had several emails from people who were in the audience, among them -
arranged... I sat ,mesmerized, not conscious of the time, and completely
beguiled by Alice. Her voice- the sheer astonishment that she could
recite so much by heart, and by the beauty of her words and poetry.
Loved it and won't forget it.