I’ve been thinking…

Actually I haven’t had much time for thinking this week; there’s been a lot of doing. But then again I have been thinking…

On Monday I went to the last Artlift session at Cinderford. I like to go to the last sessions; for one thing it makes it easier to collect in all the paperwork, but also it gives people a chance to see that there is a real person on the end of the phone. I answered emails and practised for my two gigs. In the afternoon I had my final session for now with my little Monday writers group; I think they will need a bit of a rest! In the evening I caught up with the emails to Sunday, and wrote the TADS meeting minutes.

Tuesday morning was fun. Artlift is organising two trips to Quenington open air sculpture exhibition this week, and I had to go there to complete my risk assessment. I went with the lovely Kim, who knows a thing or two about art, and because she was with me I tried not to think whether or not I liked each piece, but why I liked / disliked it – something I’m always getting writing group participants to do. Thinking about each piece like this puts them in a different perspective. It was a lovely sunny day, which I’m sure made everything look better anyway.

In the afternoon I worked with my Cirencester group. We have been working through the seven ages of man and had reached extreme old age, which some of them found very difficult, painful even, to think about. It doesn’t bother me – but then, I have had an amazing life (so far). Perhaps it’s more difficult to contemplate old age if you see your life as problematic. Afterwards I answered more emails and went to see Spy, which wasn’t as good as the ratings suggest. Perhaps that’s just me, though; lots of people around were laughing a lot, but I didn’t find it very funny at all. Sigh. No sense of humour, me.

Wednesday was writeups, emails and the final Stonehouse ArtLift session. People who have attended Artlift sessions find it really upsetting, sometimes, when they reach the end of their two terms – but of course we have to make space for new people. More emails, and some weeding, and some Artlift stuff, and prep.

On Thursday I had my last World War 1 poetry session with Year 6 kids. They were brilliant – full of good questions and ideas. It’s been hard work, this project, but great fun to deliver, and with lovely feedback, e.g. “The best two hours ever – it felt like two minutes.” Can’t ask for more than that! Now I have to put the book of pieces together.

The Son was home briefly in the afternoon, and although I really should have been working, I thought it was more important to spend time with him, so I did – until I really had to go and practise for my gig…

…which was at Worcester Speakeasy, as part of the Worcestershire Literature Festival. I was headlining – tricky, because I’ve headlined there twice already and I don’t really like repeating poems in the same venue. Most of what I did was fairly new, or things I hadn’t done for a while, so all a bit risky. But it all went off ok, and people seemed to enjoy it. They were a lovely audience too.

On Friday another last session, this time with my Longlevens Artlift group. This was the final session ever at this venue; we just haven’t had enough referrals. At least all the regulars attended, and it was clear how much the sessions have meant to them. One of them gave me a little rose bush in a pot.

I did the writeups, and answered emails, and mowed the back lawn, and then went off to my second gig, at the Reading Poets’ Café. This was a much quieter audience, who I think were not accustomed to performance poetry.

And that was one of the things that set me thinking. There were poets there, and I know there are a lot of poets online, who write poems that they read to other poets; who submit poems for publication by little journals read only by a handful of other poets; who attend workshops attended by other poets. Most of my time is spent with people who were not, or who didn’t of themselves as, poets; the effects of poetry on them are immense and incredibly valuable. And I thought – I’m so glad that I have these opportunities; it must be difficult without them to feel that there is any point in poetry at all; perhaps there isn’t. And then again, perhaps I’ve got it all wrong.

No rest on Saturday – it was off to run my kids’ group in Pershore. This was our last session until September, so we had popcorn and cakes and pink lemonade. My usual assistant, the excellent Charley, had hurt her leg and couldn’t be there – but somehow, the kids managed quite a long period of quiet writing, which is something they find very difficult. They are a really lively bunch – full of great ideas, but not always able to focus on writing.

In the afternoon I did invoices and writeups, and lots of emails. I had to email the people whose poems have not been chosen for Poetry on Loan postcards, which I don’t like doing much – especially because the poems submitted were so good! But we just couldn’t use all of them.

On Sunday I suggested to The Bloke that he might like to see the sculptures at Quenington, so off we went again. He is very good at noticing things, and he pointed out to me the beautiful speckled trout in the river; and later we saw a tiny moorhen chick, swimming desperately and squeaking with all its might – presumably it had become separated from its mum. And there I was, thinking again – the fish and the moorhen chick had between them more beauty, grace, emotion, and food for thought than all of the sculptures put together. I think you would be much better off getting a cat than a sculpture, personally – especially at the prices that were being charged. Perhaps The Bloke and I will stick to wildlife parks.

And then I finally caught up with my emails, at 11:30 last night. Too much thinking; too much doing. What I need is a rest.

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