"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
This week, mere mortals, I have walked in the halls of power. National Poetry Day, with partners in a ‘cultural consortium,’ went to talk to the BBC and I was suddenly surrounded by the finest communicators in the country. All top secret – but I can tell you that the tea in the halls of power is very similar to the tea elsewhere.
I do like to be beside the seaside, even in the dark. On Wednesday night I found myself in Southend, reading from Lifemarks with friend and co-conspirator Derek Adams. Bless’em, they bought our last eleven and we are now officially SOLD OUT – 300 copies in less than two months!
The National Trust, which formerly employed me as an archaeologist, asked me back as poet in residence for a big conference. I could see my old colleagues thinking ‘Poet in residence? What’s this frilly nonsense?’ but as always, poetry proved its worth and brought people together, laughing and thinking, to concentrate on their corporate work with a bit more oomph.
On Saturday I chaired a session at the Writing Industries Conference at Loughborough. It reminded me how much good work is done by writers in prisons, hospitals, village halls and small, unglamorous places all over the UK. Great to hear Cathy Grindrod, Rosie Garner and Kevin Fegan speaking with real passion and commitment about helping vulnerable people to expose and express their deepest feelings.
Speaking of being moved…. In London this week, enjoying a pre-train cup of tea at the Wellcome Collection (go immediately, it’s brilliant), I realised that the faintly familiar man at the next table was not someone I had once met at a party but Antony Gormley, the sculptor of the Angel of the North. I wanted to go and tell him how much his work moves me, but he was in the middle of a private chat with friends and I thought I’d look like a stalker. Should have done it anyway.