I’ve been using reading glasses for a few years now. To begin with I bought some cheap, off-the-shelf reading glasses from supermarkets and they made the world appear brighter but, increasingly, over time, my squinting, straining eyes were crying out for something more substantial. So I visited an optician’s and ordered some properly prescribed reading glasses and they’ve suited me well until this year when I’ve noticed that my middle distance vision, as well as small print, has become a mysterious haze. So I set my blurry sights on some varifocal lenses and the promise of clarity in every situation, however near, far or middle distant.
And what better time to try out new varifocals than at a poetry reading in front of a roomful of people?! On Thursday, 31st October, I turned up to The Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Oxford, one of 15 readers and a packed shopful of guests at the launch of Issue 54 of The Interpreter’s House, now under the editorship of Martin Malone. If you’re not familiar with the magazine, subscriptions are currently available at the extremely competitive price of £15 for three issues, including postage (£25 including postage for overseas).
This is a beautifully produced magazine for poems and short stories (submission details here) and it seems that most issues will be launched with live readings – which is such a brilliant idea. I know that other magazines do the same and it’s a fantastic opportunity to hear poets read, to mingle with a glass of wine or a soft drink and enjoy being in a roomful of people with a shared interest in reading and writing poetry and short fiction.
But, back to the specs! A misadventure waiting to happen, really and I suppose as I’m old enough to wear varifocal lenses I really should have known better than to try them out at a live poetry event. When it was my turn to read, the excitement of switching focus from the printed page to the audience and back again, and again, overwhelmed my confused brain and I fluffed a few lines. My eyes need more time to adjust to the varied lenses so ingeniously crafted inside my attractive oversized frames (I’m really very fond of them). So the varifocals have been retired for the time being. Fortunately there were far better and better-sighted poets reading and the evening was a great success. Poems by Carole Bromley, Christopher James, Hilda Sheehan, Michael Scott, Wendy Klein, Kate White, David Tait and Paul Hawkins are just some to look out for – there are many more, it’s jam-packed with poems! Here’s a picture of me doing my reading.