"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
This is a week of two great events for me: you may be sick of hearing about them both, but bear with me in my excitement. Firstly, I was the website poet in residence for Glastonbury Festival in its fortieth birthday year. It was always going to be a special one, but the sunshine made it doubly extraordinary. Here’s one of the resulting poems on video…..
A little village of poets set up camp (literally) behind the Poetry & Words stage. Friends Dreadlockalien, Tony Walsh and Pete the Temp were there, as was legendary dub poet Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze. We had great big noisy, friendly audiences throughout. Travelling for once with a borrowed camper van, instead of a sweaty tent, I was radiant as the day was long – and these were very long days. The poems I wrote were composed quickly and in a particular context – but if you are interested, have a look here.
Glastonbury is the mother of all festivals, but there are more to come. At Ledbury Poetry Festival I’ll be working behind the scenes this weekend and next: and at Kendal Calling I’ll be joining performers including Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer, with bands like Kid British, Doves and The Coral.
The second great event for me this week is, of course, BUGGED. Thursday is the big day when the project that David Calcutt and I cooked up together will go live across the UK. We want everyone who writes – from beginners, to hobbyists, to professional writers – to eavesdrop like mad, and to write from what they overhear. We’re tremendously excited – watch this space and the Bugged website to hear more as work starts to pour in.
All of these festivals exist as communal celebrations. I looked down on the immense site that is Glastonbury and at the 125,000 people who lived there for four days with awe and pleasure. Like Kendal Calling, like Ledbury, like Wychwood and all the other festivals across the UK, this was a great big party for its own sake. No-one was rude – no-one trod on my toes, and everyone who bumped into me said ‘sorry’ – no-one seemed to get angry or frustrated, though many people must have been tired and sun-frazzled. I don’t know how other countries do it, but it made me very proud to be part of a culture that knows how to celebrate with such kindness and good humour.
Hopefully Bugged will bring the same spirit to a virtual community. So get out there with your ear trumpet and your notebook. Meanwhile…. sod the crutches, let’s dance.