Nancy’s blog: Birmingham by Boat

Nancy writes ‘The drizzle did not deter literature lovers from hitting the waterways of the Midlands earlier this autumn. Birmingham Literature Festival programmed a double bill – a celebration of canals in poetry and prose – and found a fabulous floating venue for the event. Jasper Winn (Canal & River Trust Writer in Residence) and I arrived at the waterfront to find the boat packed to the gunwhales with punters and the mooring lines already being taken in. We jumped aboard as the boat engine sputtered into action, and began to present our writing about the waterways, with conversation deftly steered by poet and former Canal Laureate Jo Bell. The audience couldn’t have been kinder to us: they lapped up the colourful histories from Jasper’s new book Water Ways: A thousand miles round Britain’s canals, and gamely joined in the chorus to my Severn River ballad. During the hour, we could only cover a fraction of Birmingham’s vast canal network, which is said to be more intricate than that of Venice, but we saw wonderful architecture, and a variety of bird life – including a very handsome heron. From the heart of the city, our boat rounded Old Turn Junction, following the Oozells Loop, before bringing us back to the mooring on Brindleyplace to finish with book signings and warming coffees at the Ikon Gallery. Further proof, if any were needed, that boats are the very best venues for poetry.’

Photos: Nancy Campbell, Jo Bell and Jasper Winn on the river and moored up.