"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
You’ve never heard of Gertrude Bell? She was an archaeologist, explorer, poet, politician, mountaineer – and a world leader in each of her fields. And I’m going to write about her – because after a week of sitting on the news, I can tell you that I’m one of the Four for the Port writers. The project teams four virgin playwrights (oh yes, I am) with Action Transport Theatre. With fellow novices Maisie Linford, Janine Atkin and Rob Ward, plus a company of young actors and the ATT team, I’ll be writing a short play for Chester Literature Festival. I’m excited, daunted and resisting the urge to take my title from a dreadful biography which says that ‘Getrude was now 37 and aching for Dick’. Aren’t we all, dear…. But it will serve for my working title.
At this time of year, I go forth and get work – contacting clients, looking up festival dates, trying new audiences or ‘products’. This week I had more success than I had reckoned on. So I’ll be doing a little tour in February with Jenn Ashworth, writing words for a (very) short film with the National Trust, and possibly including a challenging piece of work in the Tatton Park Biennial. This in addition to the already-confirmed residency at Derby City Hospitals and, of course, my continued work with National Poetry Day.
Meanwhile, I found myself at a harrowing domestic violence conference in Stoke on Trent as poet in residence. It was apposite, as Smily Man had just had the excrement kicked out of him by a child at his workplace, the Institution for Misunderstood Cherubs where everyone has a story to tell about domestic abuse. Kicking them back is frowned upon apparently.
But there were lovely things too. In Birmingham I met with mentee Charlie Jordan (left), did a radio interview and caught up with Birmingham Poet Laureate Adrian Johnson. Birmingham’s annual German Market is huge and twinkly, and I spent a happy hour there too.
People are asking me what I want for Christmas. Seriously – I want you to click on the button below or call the number on it, and sign up for the organ donor register. Sadly, a lot of us get bumped off at Christmas by drunken drivers and the like – why not use all that offal to give someone else a chance, like friend Laurie who died this year after twenty-six years of extra life given by a heart donor? So easy, so necessary.
Meanwhile here at Macclesfield Home for the Unusual, we have more important things to do….. floating paper balloons can keep us happy for hours.