On Saturday our Room to Write Trio ploughed through walls of Northumberland Rain to spend a day at IRON AGE a very different literary Festival in the little fishing village if Cullercoats on the North East Coast. For five days the village hosted the fortieth anniversary of IRON PRESS (set up in 1973): an example of independent publishing to be celebrate in these days of depression and downgrading in the broader field of publishing.
IRON PRESS is the literary child of one-off writer, playwright, cultural entrepreneur Peter Mortimer. Over the years what started out as the influential literary magazine IRON in the 1970s has evolved into a full blown independent publisher IRON PRESS, dedicated to finding and publishing writers and poets of quality and originality.
|Vintage IRON magazines in the window |
of Oliver's bookshop on Cullercoats.
The festival was presided over by Cullerocoats' most illustrious literary resident Peter Mortimer who like the Pied Piper had enticed here hundreds of the literary and musically minded young at heart from across the north, including writers, poets, musicians - some to bread or perform, some to just relish the special atmosphere that seems to gather around Peter who has managed to sidestep the be-fogging bureaucratisation of the arts and retain his originality and iconoclastic vision of the nature of artistic enterprise.
Novelist Kitty Fitzgerald reads a short story from her new collection Miranda's Shadow. The talented Kitty works alongside Peter Mortimer as editor and quality controller to ensure the high standard ot the IRON PRESS list. She has been the other key player in the success of this vivid festival,
One venue for the readings and performances was the Lifeboat Station witt this marvelous view of the Cullercoats harbour. Very moody. Worth a poem in anybody's page.
|Despite the weather they built a symbolic Flat Iron 'birthday cake' on the beach,complete with candles and the Number 40. Worth braving the weather.|
|The Carnival band played, making us dance about under a canopy in the rain, then led brave souls onto the beach to march and caper around the 40th birthday cake.|
|Musicians in red and black|
|Blue sails of the Lifeboat Station in the background|
"There is nobody quite like Almond writing in adults' or children's fiction today. A writer of visionary, Blakean intensity."
"David Almond's books are strange, unsettling wild things. They are, like all great literature, beyond classification:"
|In a street a bit back from the harbour in Cullercoats we found this beautiful bookshop.|
|The interior could very well be an atmospheric setting for a labyrinthine thriller.|
Thank you Peter and Kitty for bringing true cultural warmth to a rainy day.
LINKS FOR YOU
Iron Press: Iron Press
David Almond lDavid Almond
Kitty Fitzgerald /Kitty Fitzgerald
Bridie Jackson Bridie Jackson
Room to Write Room to Write