Poems and prizes

Well, the week was as busy and as stressful as expected, but I’m still here, so it can’t have been too bad. Monday was prep, prep and more prep. And paying Poetry on Loan invoices. And then a big shock. In February I exchanged emails with the organisers of the Lydney Festival; yes, we were going to have a slam this year, and it was to be against a team from Cheltenham. What date? I asked – fairly important information when you’re trying to book people. They gave a me a date, but I knew it was wrong – they had said it would be a Thursday but the date I was given was a Tuesday, so I queried it. And then I heard nothing more. I knew that the organisers had been in two minds about a slam, so I didn’t push it, but on Monday I sent a courtesy email saying perhaps we could do it again next year. Immediately I had a reply: it’s booked for July 7th! It’s in the programme!! Groan. So, lots of emails and phone calls later, Lydney has a team, and Cheltenham is on the way to having a team, and the slam will go on. But really, all this extra effort and it wasn’t my fault!

Tuesday was a Writers in Prison Network conference in Sheffield. My train to Sheffield was late, but apart from that it was an encouraging day, as these things always are. I went straight from the station to the dress rehearsal of Terry Doyle. After a bad start – they were so nervous that I had to stop them, do some relaxation exercises and start again – it was terrific; the best they’ve ever done it.

On Wednesday I was in a school I’ve never worked in before. I had a fantastic class of kids, who were full of ideas and wrote some lovely poems. I’ve taken bits from each of their poems to make a long one which will be the start of a group performance. There’s a special term for this – a poem made up of lines from other poems – but I’ve forgotten what it is. Old age strikes. In the evening I went to a Ledbury Poetry festival meeting, but I had to leave early because I had a terrible headache, which didn’t really go away until Friday.

Thursday… well, the play performance was in the evening, and I always find it hard to concentrate on play days, but I answered a lot of emails and did most of the preparation for the Poetry Festival events I’ll be managing. And I mowed the grass. We were first on in the evening. The cast were still rather nervous but they put on a great performance and did me and the play proud. The adjudicator said some very complimentary things and even noticed our very carefully-planned furniture, which was gratifying. The last play on was really excellent, though, and seemed likely to take a lot of the prizes. Still, lots of people in the audience said how good Terry Doyle (our play) was, and that they had been moved almost to tears, which must be a good sign.

On Friday I did some more prep and more emails, and went with my GP surgery group, who are currently writing a play, for a guided tour round The Roses theatre. I think my group all enjoyed this, and they certainly learned some things they didn’t know before. Thanks loads to The Roses! And I did some shopping, and some accounts work, and answered more emails, and did some prep for another new school.

No time off on Saturday! In the morning I had the Hereford kids’ writing group (we worked on play writing, and they had a whale of a time), and then straight to a community event near Tewkesbury, gathering people’s feelings about living in the area for a big poem to go on a hoarding. It would have been good fun if it hadn’t been cold and raining. And from there to the play festival awards ceremony. We won a couple of prizes – the Technical prize for our use of a split stage (I think the furniture did it for us), and best supporting actor for Richard Hughes, who played six parts magnificently. We also had nominations for best actor and actress, and in my view should have had the runner up award in each of these categories – not that I’m at all biased. I don’t think the adjudicator liked the play much, though. Oh well, never mind; the prizes we got were well-deserved and we know we put on a good performance. And, during the interval, I wrote the first bit of dialogue for my next play.

On Sunday I was lazy; I proof-read the book of poems from the Windale school, and got ready for today, and otherwise just loafed around.

And here we are, back to Monday – back with the really good school this morning, only they weren’t so good today (lots of bad rhyming poems! Grrr!), and a really difficult afternoon with the school in Oxford, where the kids are acting as if it’s the last week of term.

And I’ll be working all evening. I felt a bit too stressed on Saturday morning, but I’m back to my indomitable self now, and I’ll just plug on until it’s all done. No prizes for that, and no time to write poems…

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