"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
The week started snowy, and after last week’s dash from Glasgow to London to Birmingham to the verge of a nervous breakdown, I kept closer to home (where Jon Baxter of the Macclesfield Express took these nice pictures).
So I settled down to work in Macclesfield – writing the foreword for a book of landscape poetry, and at last doing some work on Aching for Dick, my mini-play about Gertrude Bell (right). Poetry peer Joy Winkler and I planned a ‘mothers and daughters’ event over a pizza and free bottle of wine at Ronnie’s Bar (thanks to the wonderful Loop and its voucher).
Then I was off to Derby, to see Juliet and Nicki who will be my support team as I begin my year as Writer in Residence at Royal Derby Hospital. They believe, thank goodness, that a person in hospital doesn’t stop being a person and become a patient – s/he deserves to experience great, thought-provoking and challenging artwork. To that end they have built a really ambitious programme of art placements, and commissioned me as part of it. It’s one of those so-good-it’s-terrifying opportunities, and I hope I can do it justice.
The sun came out, and on a blue-sky day I visited Preston, which many years ago gave me a nervous breakdown. It was not entirely Preston’s fault – I was studying bilingual administration, surely a recipe for a wobbly brain. Jenn Ashworth, who I was meeting to talk about Too Much Information, likes Preston very much and indeed, it seemed all right this time around. Still, I celebrated my safe return amongst friends including Butterfly Jam at the Hollins pub.
Saturday brought a highlight of the performance poetry year – the Big Love Slam in Bilston, near Wolverhampton. It gathered together a lively bunch of spoken-word stars including Robin Cairns, who hosted me last month in Glasgow, Steve Rooney and Lorna Meehan; so I was mighty chuffed to make it to the semi-final. Winner Mark Neill (right) was even prepared to get his kit off in the name of art. It was a night of entertainment, laughter and quite a lot of Jameson’s whisky, as I recall.
A final chortle comes from this magnificent site which allows you to make your own election poster featuring
David Cameron. So it’s been a rather giggly week. As Gertrude Bell wrote in a letter of February 1910, ‘it’s all being quite as amusing as we meant it to be.’ Let’s hope we’re all still laughing in May…