One of the great things about travelling to gigs in different areas is not just the chance to see new places and meet new people (as well as old friends), but also the opportunity for reading on the journeys.

Though the massive backlog in my reading is far from sorted, travelling to Leicester Shindig on Monday, I finally got the chance to catch up on three poetry pamphlets.

Margaret Thatcher’s Museum (Hesterglock Press) by Antony Owen opens with a list of exhibits – the politically-edged dark humour in these sets out the core of this pamphlet: what it is to be human/come from a working class/non-white background in today’s society. The personal and political are carefully and beautifully interweaved in these poems, where sometimes dislocated sentences and unfussy line-breaks on ‘and’ and ‘that’ highlight the sense of raw material being built up (against the odds!) into something as sharp as “Your sea is a vase of breaking flowers”, as beautiful as “the son of a song never heard” and as essential as “unrehearsed smiles in rehearsed routines”.

Sarer Scotthorne’s The Blood House (Hesterglock Press) is one of the most beautiful and unique-looking pamphlets that I’ve picked up in a long while, with a striking cover image, (ink) blood-stained flyleaf and fingerprint on the inner back. The poetry inside is as haunting as this suggests. At times painful and eerie, also bold, black and bloody, but beautiful too. The range of forms and layout on the page also make this a pamphlet to explore, and then re-explore, each time gaining more.

It was a real delight to hear Rosie Miles read from her HappenStance pamphlet CUTS at Monday’s Shindig. On the page or heard aloud, the poems are vivid and quirky, at turns humorous but still undercut by the sharper edges of love, life, society. Family relationships, historical characters and modern places (amongst a range of other subjects) all cut in different ways, and are all explored in unusual and striking ways that make this a very memorable pamphlet. In fact, it’s one that I closed with an admiring sigh, knowing that I’ll be opening it to re-read again soon.

Other things making me happy this past week: the Nine Arches Press launch of plenty-fish at Birmingham MAC last Friday, another poem accepted for London Grip, three poems accepted for Stand and the proofs for the Mother’s Milk Books Writing Prize 2014 anthology The Story of Us (available for pre-order here). Also, continuing plans for The Magnetic Diaries poetry-play tour and heading up to London for The Poetry Book Fair at Conway Hall on Saturday, where V. Press will have a stand beside Mother’s Milk Books and Fairacre Press. I will be reading for Mother’s Milk Books at 2.30pm and Jacqui Rowe will be reading for V. Press, sharing poems from her pamphlet Ransom Notes. I’ve also been loving the September sunshine and autumn colours!