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DSC05637The room was packed and there was a buzz of excitement and not all of it was because of the wine. The Paragram Chapbook Challenge winner and ‘Spotlights’ poets were gathered at the Poetry Place in Covent Garden for this, the launch of our two latest books.

Peter Taylor started the evening off with readings from his winning chapbook ‘Perspectives from an Open Heart’. The range of his work and its complexity kept the audience rapt for the whole of his fifteen minute slot and left everyone wanting to hear even more.

There followed readings from poets who had travelled to London from the length and breadth of the country to join us for the evening. Susan Evans, Bob Elvis, Robin Thomas, Gilian Malster, Penny Shutt, Charlotte Stevens and  Bridget McLaughlin (who flew in from the US) entertained us royally with some of their poems from the ‘Spotlights’ anthology.

‘Spotlights’ poems, including some from Marilyn Hammick, a short listed poet, who unfortunately couldn’t make the launch event were read by Sally and Lesley from Paragram – hopefully in a way that did justice to the original poets’ intentions.

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Smita Vyas Kumar, one of the short listed poets in the challenge had, not unexpectedly, found it impossible to travel from India to join us in London but has recorded an introduction and a reading to YouTube. Follow the links to meet Smita:

All in all it was an amazing evening showcasing different styles of poetry and of delivery. The breadth and variety of writing was evident…as was the strength of the entries Paragram received to its first ever venture into the world of chap book publishing.

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Half way through the evening, after fortification during a short interval, Claire Dyer launched the 2016 Paragram initiative. Claire is to be the judge for the 2016 Paragram Paradox Prize and it was a great bonus for those would be entrants in the audience to hear her mention those things she will be looking for as she judges entries (not to worry if you were not there – we will blog about this more at a later date).

There will be three genres in the new competition, humour, poetry and petite-prose, with a prize in each. Keep an eye out for our next blog which will be dedicated to more information about the competition.

Miraculously the timings we had planned over the course of the evening allowed enough time for Peter to present some new writing and some extra performances by Susan Evans. Claire Dyer also read some of her poetry which was a bonus event for the evening.

The energy, talent and good humour present in the room was palpable and judging from the comments as people left, the event had been, as we hoped, memorable.

Well done all the poets who made the evening possible and we at Paragram offer our thanks to everyone in the audience who helped make the evening amazing.

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