Poetry makes nothing happen

That’s a quote from W. H. Auden, and I’ve been thinking about it, what with it being National Poetry Day last week ’n’ all. Poetry has changed my life completely; Auden was wrong. On the other hand, I wish sometimes that poetry could actually make nothing happen; that for each line I wrote there was an equivalent time when absolutely nothing happened. I wrote a poem about this last night.

I could do with a spell of nothing – things are really busy at the moment. Good stuff, but lots of it. Monday was mostly emails, of course, with some prep and my end-of-month accounting. I had to take my car in for a recall job, so this week I’ve been driving around in a big wallowy thing. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, I was working on a new slam poem, and during the day I did all the prep for the Poetry on Loan meeting on Friday – it took ages! I did some more work on the poem and handled more emails, and in the evening saw Ready or not. It was stylish but derivative.

I’ve been feeling quite jumpy, and hoped that a Pilates session on Wednesday would be calming. It wasn’t, really. More emails, and in the evening a slam in Bristol. I did the new poem. Unfortunately it relied on a good proportion of the audience having watched Love island. One man clearly had, and chuckled at all the references, but it left the others cold. It didn’t do badly, especially for a first outing for a new poem, but I’ll have to try to gauge the audience better for any future performances.

Thursday was National Poetry Day! I emailed the winners of the Poetry on Loan poetry competition and put the results on our website, and did some work for the PoL training session next week. The Son came home for a while, which is always good fun, and in the evening I was in Hereford for the PoL poetry postcards launch. The postcards really are lovely, and seeing a display of the accompanying posters in Hereford library was a real boost. We had a small audience, but the gig went really well, and was a salutary lesson in not underestimating audiences; the very old lady in the front row lapped it all up, including the poems hat I thought she might find a little bit shocking.

On Friday I did my weekly accounts, and more prep, and went to the Poetry on Loan meeting in Birmingham. These meetings are always invigorating. The weekend was quite quiet, except that on Sunday evening I ran a workshop at Buzzwords, a poetry night in Cheltenham that I helped set up 17 years ago – it’s hard to believe that it’s been going so long! I was one of the two featured poets, too, and that went really well; they’re a lovely bunch.

And this week is busy too. I could really do with a bit of nothing – but at least I’ve got my car back.


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