"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
I’m still in Staffordshire, the Land That Orange Forgot. There is very little phone or internet reception here on theCaldon Canal, and people commute at a slower pace.
There is a proper community of boaters here – the real ones, who keep firewood on the roof and spend the afternoons sanding things. It wasn’t all that surprising to find that my neighbours included a vicar and a professional clown. But on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday, I was closeted inside with the many entries for the Essex Poetry Festival. The judge after all has to do justice to all the entries, from the brilliant to the banal. There is much reflection, re-reading, consideration to be done in the process – but I think we have our winner.
I’ve been in London for a National Poetry Day meeting – we discussed plans to use new media, internet content and Google mapping, amongst other things, to make NPD interesting and interactive. Back in Cheshire, I hosted the penultimate workshop in my current series at Wilmslow Library, then gathered with the Fourpenny Circus troupers to watch ourselves on video. The show was filmed at the Bluecoat Centre in Liverpool: we watched, we commented, we learned a lot. You know what? It’s a bloody good show. We came away proud of ourselves, and ready for the autumn dates in October and November.
Then, there began a weekend full of life celebrations. First, up to the Lakes for Maddy’s naming ceremony.
Maddy’s family have timed their reproductive cycles so that pretty much all of her adult relations have a baby around nine months old. We herded the little wobbly people together and gathered them at the Footprint building, a remarkable creation in the Lakes. Babies burbled, toddlers toddled, adults shared a magical day with good friends. It was tear-jerking and generous and remarkable.
The next day I was at an eighteenth birthday party, then that evening at friend John’s sixtieth – another glorious and properly celebratory day.
Exhausted by all this partying, I’m getting ready to head back to Macclesfield in a couple of weeks. The nights are drawing in and strange men keep smiling at me from the towpath.
There is a chill autumn wind – but the towpath hedges are full of jewels, and the heather is out on my precious Peak District moors. As the poet Jo Bell has it ‘sometimes a love of place will lift you/ like a kite lifts from blown heather – / like a sail.’ How wise she is…..