The suburbs are not traditionally full of poets and artists. Perhaps Palmers Green, though, is an exception, as home to at least two great writers: Paul Scott and Stevie Smith
Stevie Smith lived in the same house in Palmers Green, 1 Avondale, from the age of four until her death in 1971 at the age of 69 – sixty five years. Her suburban surroundings and the experience of living in Palmers Green connected profoundly with her writing.
In 2002 Palmers Green hosted a poetry festival, under the title 10 days with Stevie Smith, complete with its own ‘fringe’ (a gent by the name of Peter Brown playing a song inspired by the poem Avondale on the harmonium who met festival goers at the station). An English Heritage blue plaque was unveiled in her memory by poet laureate Andrew Motion in 2005.
Since then, though, and particularly with the demise of the Palmers Green Bookshop, all seems to have gone quiet in remembering and celebrating Stevie. Until now. On Saturday 30 June, poets Anne Bryan and Katherine Gallagher will be holding a day’s workshop at St John’s Parish Centre, Palmers Green, under the title Not waving by drowing: not drowning but waving – the enigma of Stevie Smith.
The day will be in two parts – a writing workshop from 10.30 am- 1 pm, followed by, from 2 – 4.30, a talk ‘Who was Stevie?’ plus questions and readings of poems.
Writing workshop £16, ( £13 conc.) Afternoon: £12 (£10 concs.) Full day – £28 (£23 concs.). Booking essential.