That’s poetry

Driving to Dorchester on Monday meant an opportunity to practise poems ready for my gig on Tuesday. The meeting there went well, and the play rehearsal in the evening was good – although it’s all a bit worrying, with only three rehearsals left. By tomorrow, the cast should all be word perfect and it will start taking shape properly.

By Tuesday, I was getting nervous about the gig in the evening, and had another practice; and then there was a phone call to say it had been cancelled. This was really disappointing, but that’s poetry, I’m afraid; things get cancelled, audiences don’t turn up, people forget that you’re coming… I got a lot of prep done instead, and went to see It’s complicated in the evening.

Wednesday was training for library staff in Dudley, on how to talk about and promote contemporary poetry. They were a lovely group and the feedback was great; job done.

On Thursday I had my first session with a new group in the prison. They were brilliant – really engaged and enthusiastic, and one of them is an extraordinarily good writer; his poems made the hairs on the back of my neck stick up, and that doesn’t happen very often. It was a busy day in the prison – straight from the group to a steering group meeting, and then a one-to-one with a member of staff, and more one-to-ones with prisoners and a session working on the next newsletter… I was really tired in the evening, but the Greek lesson went well too.

Friday was a session in the doctors’ surgery – just two ladies, one at a time, but they are both people who really blossom with individual attention, so it turned out positively.

And Saturday – ah, Saturday. I worked in Stoke-on Trent. In the morning I ran a workshop on writing romantic poetry with some very chatty ladies. It was a struggle to keep them on track, but they all wrote two poems, and they ended up with pieces that I don’t think they would have been able to write before the workshop. In the afternoon I held a drop-in session in the museum. I helped seven people write love poems – a young man aged 18, there with his girlfriend; a couple who haven’t been together long; a 15-year-old girl; a young chap who sees his girlfriend only twice a year; a four-year-old who wanted a Valentine poem for her Daddy… This was a lovely experience. For all of these people this was something completely unexpected, something that brightened not only their day but other people’s as well. Ok, it meant driving a long way and missing a Saturday at home, but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Now that’s poetry.

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