Nothing beats the excitement of penning (typing) a blog post whilst still high on adrenaline from the day’s events!
I know I said I would reduce blogging to weekly round ups this October until INKSPILL – Our FREE ONLINE writing retreat, but today is National Poetry Day and what kind of ambassador for poetry would I be if I let that one slip without posting?
What a crazy day…. I woke up to my 9:30 alarm (needed an ill me lie in) then fell asleep and promptly woke myself up with phone-in-the-face… good job too as I had left myself just short of a couple of hours to prepare for my first event.
As always (there is an organised woman in me trying desperately to get out), I planned to pack a bag and sort my costume before I went to bed. My chest infection resulted in an earlier evening than planned and me visualising costume possibilities instead of counting sheep. To be fair I had plenty of time this morning and was ready and out the door on time, my delay came when I hit Digbeth at lunch time and found all car parks full, all road spaces in use and many drivers who decided not to give way when the highway code would advise it… a couple of car sandwiches later I just pulled into The Bond and hoped.
Parked right outside the venue but in my post-nearly-had-my-car-written-off flap, discovered I hadn’t actually listened and headed back to reception.
I wasn’t late as I had planned to be over an hour early – I wasn’t over an hour though and poor Dan, who only met me today was greeted by a slightly deranged, manic lady talking about poetry and parking. He recognised the signs and I got costume ready and into character before sorting out the details of the OPENING EVENT – the buffet arrived, I think the caterer had probably struggled through tight lane traffic too, she presumed I was Rachel (Rachel Green – Programme director), I pointed Dan out to her and went on preparing a set of poems.
THE OPENING EVENT – ‘Meets, Greets, Eats and Poetry Beats’
I had originally decided to just do two, poignant to the event – but I was glad I reserved more because I ended up doing the whole show! One of the poet’s was there but in another venue, the wrong place, the other poets were on the Poetry Trail, which was the first event on the programme today – so it was just me – the ‘Poetry Princess’, the programme of events and my poetry book!
Feedback was all positive – people wouldn’t have known any different – my acting skills covering more than the cloaked character on stage! The buffet was a beautiful vegetarian feast and the pasta bake was delicious.
If I am free on a Thursday I can be found at the Library doing Poetry For Lunch – but today the offer of hosting the opening event for Poetry, Performance and Everything Else Festival was too tempting. As it was National Poetry Day Jan Watt’s Poetry for Lunch was on for a whole hour (it is usually a half hour extraganza) – she had a good turn out, it meant Jan and Andrea missed out on the delight that was the Poetry Princess and her extended B side Performance, because rather than introducing acts she had to perform the whole event. I think they would have approved.
REMEMBER Poetry Workshop 2 -4
We then had Cathy Crossley and Jan Watts take us through a National Poetry Day themed workshop on remembrance – remembering. Including lots of musical stimuli – I thoroughly enjoyed it and the group were great – everyone sharing their work and loads of strong ideas and images being written down, talked about and shared.
I ended up with 2 pages of notes (I think Andrea has a photo of them), and a poem or the basis of a poem which I was fairly pleased with.
It was relaxed and I love the venue they have at The Bond for the festival – all the workshops take place in one big space, there was a clay workshop at the same time – some impressive Mad Hatter hats displayed on the table at the end of it.
ROY MCFARLANE (Poet Laureate) Soulful Poetry Event.
I have only caught a handful of Roy’s performances in this 1st year of poeting. It was great to see him up on stage, energy, positivity and heart wrenching/ warming poetry exudes from him. I met him officially, properly to talk to at Jacqui Rowe’s Poetry Bites, last Tuesday. He had to go before my set. Today was the first time he has EVER heard me, due to the nature of the festival and the event and knowing Andrea’s poetry was about her experiences I read my ‘Stone’ poem.
It has been 10 years in my head, written about going back to where my life took a sharp turn downhill, I was visiting a nearby town to take part in a poetry event, this poem is as yet unedited and runs to 4 minutes, about double the time I usually take to perform. I had never performed it before. I shared other poems too and Roy gave me a great confidence boost at the end after discovering my voice.
Hotwheeling (not literally) over to the Library of Birmingham, for the first day at Birmingham Literature Festival and the announcement of the new Poet Laureate. I also wanted to support 2 of my poetry friends in the final; Jasmine Gardosi and Matt Man Windle.
It was a great way to end the evening, watching the performances and seeing former poet Joanna Skelt read again.
Afterwards I spent some time chatting to people from Writing West Midlands. I picked up tickets from the Box Office for all the Birmingham Lit Fest events I can make. Last year (this was my first EVER Lit Festival) apart from a day at Hays, I practically lived in the city for the fortnight (10 days) this time I cannot attend so much. However, I am performing in the festival instead, on the 11th with Naked Lungs and the commissioned Urbanature project/ performance. So that trumps going to the library everyday and at least this way I still have time to work on my writing.
In fact the only poetry between now and Sunday afternoon will be material written tonight and tomorrow afternoon, the Roy Croft poem, I am reading at my brother’s wedding and maybe a bit of bedtime reading. Sunday I am back in Birmingham for Roger McGough at the Literature Festival.
I have had such a great day! I am also enjoying what other people have done to celebrate National Poetry Day, I may have to produce some sort of montage of information, maybe as part of the weekly round up!
It was also this time last year, to the day that I had my 1st performance experience with the mic and poetry going public. Julie Boden’s Night in Leamington Spa.