Grevel Lindop

Poet, biographer, critic, essayist and writer on just about everything

Maryport LitFest Icon Is a True Venus After All!

Can't find any image of the lady herself: this is just a collection of altars in the Museum

As I’ll be speaking and reading poems at this year’s Maryport Literary festival, I’m delighted to bring you the following news item:

“The Venus Stone, focal point of this year’s innovative literary Festival in Maryport at the end of November, has just undergone a historical facelift. It seems she may be a true Venus after all!

Always interpreted as a representation of a ‘lady of the night’, the Venus was thought to be hanging about outside the fort gateway, with more than literature on her mind, and was possibly a sign for a brothel in the fort. However, new insights into the greater significance of the Venus Stone have recently come to light.

The figure next to the gateway is probably a true statue of Venus standing in a substantial temple dedicated to her, says stone expert Dr. Peter Hill. Dr Hill, in a Review of the collections at the Museum, has pointed out that the sculpture itself is of high-quality workmanship with the gateway shown with pillared arches. The temple has finely carved columns with capitals supporting an arch.

The stone itself would have been part of a major gateway within the fort. The gateway, the only contemporary representation of a gateway to a Roman fort, is the pattern used for reconstructions on Roman sites and films.

Archaeologist Lindsay Allason-Jones has further interpreted the sculpture as representing Venus in her role as a protector of men, but this year’s LitFest, the third to be based around a stone in the Roman collection, will be exploring every aspect of the Goddess of Love!”
Maryport LitFest
25-28th November
Read all about it at
or contact Jane Laskey at the Museum on 01900 816168

New Orleans Jazz Poetry With Chuck Perkins

Chuck Perkins: Poet Laureate of New Orleans

Just back from Cambridge, where I was lucky enough to read on Saturday night with RipRap, a poets and musicians’ collective. Star of the evening was Chuck Perkins, who is over from New Orleans where I met him last year and has been doing a reading tour of the UK: Liverpool, Manchester (where he gave a superb performance last Saturday, supported by local young poets’ collective Young Identity), London’s South Bank – with quick stopovers in Toulouse and Amsterdam. (To check out Riprap with samples of the superb music composed by Kevin Flanagan for a range of poets, go to

Chuck – dubbed the Poet Laureate of New Orleans – is a hugely dynamic performer with

In Manchester, onstage with musicians Andy Boothman and Aid Todd

a unique approach that combines beautiful resonant language with trenchant critique of current US politics and the economic crisis. Backed b y the Kevin Flanagan Quartet, he gave a hugely exciting set that had the audience spellbound.

If you haven’t heard his work, here’s a clip from YouTube that shows Chuck at his best. We hope he”ll be back in the UK soon.