One of the busiest weeks…

…I’ve ever had. Monday was mostly prep – for my doctors’ surgery group in Ross; for a radio interview about the kids’ plays I did the research for; for an interview in Dorset; for National Poetry Day. And I had a worrying email that indicated that there might be no funding for my hospital work next year. Fortunately, this last thing was cleared up later in the week; they are considering the funding for 2012 – which I was not expecting anyway. I need to get a bid in to the particular charity that pays for the work, and then perhaps it might even carry on past the end of 2011. I hope so; I do feel that this is worthwhile work.

Anyway. Once I’d answered the swathes of emails, I went off for the radio interview. It was a bit tricky because the woman who has done most of the work on the project could not be there, but I think it was ok. In the evening I went to see Buried with The Bloke – very powerful film, and extremely well done.

On Tuesday I worked with my lovely group in Ross, and drove off to Dorset for an interview. I had specifically asked for a late interview, and the original email had asked me to attend at 10:30 am. No phone number was given, and I spent a lot of time last Friday trying to get it rearranged; eventually I was asked to come at 3:30. When I got there, at 3:15, I was told my interview time was 3:00 pm. Fortunately they were running late, so it was ok, and the interview was all right, but all the way home I kept thinking of things I should have said. They said we would be told who had the job the next day. Today I have received an email saying I haven’t got it. Oh dear. But it would have meant a lot of driving, I suppose, so I mustn’t be too disappointed.

Wednesday was more write-ups and prep, and the dentist, and more prep, and more prep…

…ready for Thursday. In the morning I ran a workshop at the Warwick Words Festival (which is lovely – you should go!); it was called “Everything you need to know about writing poetry”, and we covered a lot in 3 hours, and everyone there wrote three poems. What an excellent way to spend the morning of National Poetry Day! Then I travelled to London – car to Oxford, and train – for the Koestler Awards event. Poets (real, published poets) were reading in the Royal Festival Hall open area, and I had time to hear a few poems – but why do they adopt that strange declamatory tone when they read? I don’t understand this. Wendy Cope had judged the Koestler poetry entries, and she was on first in my event; she reads in a good clear conversational style, and she went down really well. I talked a bit about being a Writer in Residence in a prison, and read some of my guys’ poems. It was such a pleasure to bring them to a proper audience – there were about 60 people there, I guess. And I just caught the train before the one I had planned to catch, which meant that I was home just on midnight. What a good day!

Friday was: hospital (one very unfortunate lady, and one very positive one); the palliative care nurses (good session); the Tewkesbury surgery group (who work so hard!), and then a slam in Malvern. I came fourth in the first round; three people went through to the final. Rats. But still, they were new poems and you can never be sure about new poems until you’ve tried them out.

On Saturday I was helping with a fun day event at the Cheltenham LitFest. I had provided some first lines for couplets, which were printed on cards. People were asked to write the second line on the card, and then we attached the cards to helium balloons and sent them off into the sky. I love balloons! I had expected a steady trickle of people, but in fact it was a mad rush from beginning to end; I did help some people with their second lines but spent most of the time tying balloons. To be honest, the standard of poetry was not high, but we sent off 156 balloons with poems to land as little gifts in people’s gardens.

I had time for a bit of shopping, and then in the evening it was the LitFest Allstars slam. I have appeared in this slam for 14 consecutive years now, more than anyone else, and I do think they should give me an award, like the Lifetime Achievement Oscars – basically for still being alive. I scraped through the first heat, but didn’t get anywhere in the semi-finals. But – it was the strongest field I’ve ever seen in a slam in my life, and I felt very lucky to have reached the semis. The winner is a fine poet, although he wasn’t the one I would have chosen to win. It’s always a disappointment not to win, though; you always think that if you’d performed a different poem you would have done better, and I think that this was definitely the case on Saturday. But never mind; that’s slamming.

And yesterday was a lovely day – beautiful weather, and we went to Lydney Docks and threw sticks into the mud. I’m so pleased that that incredibly busy week is over, but it’s sunny and warm again, which means that I’ll have to go outside and do some painting, which means that my quiet period of catching up a bit isn’t going to happen. Another busy week ahead, then…

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