The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Home is where the Art is

Musical nudists. No, really

All right, nobody quite said that to me on Friday night at the Barnaby Festival cabaret. But it was a home audience and they were lively, not just for me but for the comedians, the ‘romantic contortionist’, the very funny Boothby Graffoe and the….er….. musical nudists. The re-invented festival was a triumph – filling the streets of Macclesfield with samba bands, food markets, fire-juggling, cabaret and opera, world-class art and sculpture. They said it couldn’t be done. Well, sod them. We did it anyway.

Drumming out despondency

Flying the flag for Macc

I spent two evenings in Manchester this week. On the first I filmed Dominic Berry and Max Wallis, loudly performing  poems about sex in a sunny central alleyway (did I say that right?) Dominic’s ‘Men in Suits, Boys in School Uniform‘ is great performance poetry that makes you laugh and think, and there was plenty more. I chipped in for the under-represented heterosexual community with a couple of my own poems: here is Coming. We had a giggle and so, I think, did some passers-by.

The second Manchester visit was for the launch of Mike Garry‘s book, God is a Manc. Overlooking the fact that God is most certainly a Yorkshireman, I swallowed my pride and enjoyed a full-hearted celebration of all things Mancunian. Mike is a fantastic performer, a big-hearted writer and has quite the loveliest hair of any poet you’ll ever meet (though the competition is not fierce). Look here and you’ll see what I mean. It felt like a big poetry moment, and I was so glad to have been there.

Not much of a challenge for me

Here’s a little challenge that caught my fancy. It’s a simple ‘happening’ (sound familiar, Bug-lovers?) on the longest day of the year. If you read this in time, go out on Monday 21st and take a picture of your nearest watery landscape. Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to cheat but you don’t have to submit your photo till 28th June….

Now, I understand that the Glastonbury Festival is even bigger than Barnaby. There are 45 stages, for instance. Looking at the map, I may never make it into the festival site – I could just be driving around for hours trying to park. But there I am on the website: far far below Gorillaz, Stevie Wonder and Paloma Faith,


but still on the same page. I’m looking forward with some trepidation and vast excitement to my stint as poet in residence for their website.

As a result the blog will be delayed next week. It should be a bumper version when it comes, complete with mud stains, a faint smell of sweat and the incoherence that comes of four days’ sleeplessness. we come!


One comment on “Home is where the Art is

  1. Heather Wastie
    June 20, 2010

    I love the way Dominic keeps looking round as if he’s worried about being caught taking part in a poetical act 🙂

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