The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

From Watford to Werewolves

And I hardly had any make-up on...
And I hardly had any make-up on…

On Saturday evening I joined a room full of zombies, werewolves etc for a horror-themed cabaret night called Twaddle. There was a man called ‘the human noticeboard’ who used a staple gun to paper himself with beermats – a memory act which failed abysmally as the chap couldn’t remember more than three items – a set involving a bed of nails, a surfboard, juggling clubs and two volunteers – and a woman who, impressive if politically unsound, managed to strip whilst hula-hooping. As we came in, this gentleman mummy1was trying to send a text message. He looked up in frustration and said ‘I just hadn’t thought this costume through…’ Clearly we now know why the ancient Egyptians didn’t invent the mobile phone.

 

I’m busy as a humble bumblebee. I did the first of several stints as conference poet in residence for the National Trust this week, in charming olde worlde Watford. My function is as corporate court jester – I take ideas from the sessions during the day, and turn out a poem at the end to remind everyone what they were there for in the first place. The NT is getting more adventurous and innovative in its use of art, and the people are always interesting. Like most conservation organisations it attracts people with passion and a ‘can-do’ attitude, and doing this work with them allows me to enjoy that at one remove. It’s fantastic fun, but exhausting.

 

Equally exhausting is our Christmas Open Studios event at Banks’ Mill. Twice a year we throw our doors open to visitors. The building fills with artists, sculptors, photographers and the little poet on the top floor. Amongst our more dashing visitors was young Hal Hollingsworth, now almost grown to man’s estate…

Hal enthroned...

Hal enthroned...

After several of these events, I now know without a doubt that many people feel genuinely uncomfortable and unsettled around poetry. In general I do a good job of converting the doubtful, but never at Open Studios. People are here to see the place and buy art, not to discuss their feelings about my preferred art form. So I leave them alone and take the opportunity to enjoy my studio, and catch up with colleagues and visiting friends. I got on with researching Christmas readings for my event at Neston on 2nd December – any takers?

 

 

Last week’s homework on my poetry course concerned prose poetry. I remain to be convinced. Most ‘prose poems’ seem to me like the first draft of a proper poem, which some lazy bastard couldn’t be bothered to work into the finished piece. Frankly I’d be glad to write a decent piece in any format at the moment…

 

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This entry was posted on November 24, 2008 by in Writing exercises.
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