Just this once, here’s a photo of me. It was taken at my party in Stroud last Saturday night to celebrate my fiftieth birthday and the publication of Deep Time.
The dress code was ‘tropical’. It was delightful to see the inventive ways this was interpreted. Some went for the safari look. Others wore the bright colours of more indigenous tropical style. Yet others were glorious in ‘fantasy tropical’ garb including feathers and face paint. The room’s adornment included the framed original of Grizelda Holderness’s cover art for Deep Time, loaned for the night from her exhibition in the Centre for Science and Art.
I dressed in clothes I’d worn in the Gabonese rainforest and let down my hair to become cryptozoologist Brendan Merlie, Deep Time’s narrator, when I performed an extract from the book. I also talked about ‘time’, to make some connections between the experience of getting older, the almost geological amount of time it took to write the novel, and the passage of deep time in nature.
My special guest was ecopoet Helen Moore, whose birthday is very close to mine. She read from her brand new collection ECOZOA, including a poem titled ‘Deep Time, Deep Tissue’, which links the embodying experience of being massaged to the visioning of creatures and processes in deep time.
We also had poems from Jehanne Mehta, whose birthday too almost coincides with Helen’s and mine; and songs from our superb MC, David Metcalfe; and Jay Ramsay read the poem in Anamnesis from which Deep Time’s epigraph is taken. Deep Time includes a few jungly scenes involving dancing and drumming, so in the middle of the speeches we had some high-energy drumming from Herewood Gabriel and Jay. Other people joined in with percussion instruments we handed out – or by dancing. Novelist Mimi Thebo, who introduced me straight after that, said, ‘I think that in future all literary events should include drumming.’
So Deep Time was launched upon the world with a bang. If you’re in reach of Bath, please do join Helen, me, and Richard Kerridge for a public ‘Deep Time and ECOZOA’ event in Waterstones Bath on Thursday 21 May, starting 6.30 p.m.
Picture credit: Photo by David Wilkinson