The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

In Praise of Celebration

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.

Jean Binta Breeze, Pete the Temp, Dreadlockalien

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.

Sunset at the stone circle

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.

Your correspondent: hot but happy

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.

3 comments on “In Praise of Celebration

  1. KW
    June 30, 2010

    Hey there Ms Bell .. Just read your Glastopoems, more than once .. amusing, entertaining, and given the time constraints and the mushroom brew and time spent contemplating the stars (of various kinds) and your personal V spot(eek!) are actually quite good (how patronising does that sound!?) .. seriously – enjoyable and well thought .. looks like, sounds like, seems like you had a great time .. Well done and lookin’ forward to more .. Cheers .. KW

  2. Jo Bell
    June 30, 2010

    Kevin – you’re absolutely right, no-one expects a masterpiece out of a gig like this. ‘Quite good’ is the best I can hope for so thanks for the comment, I appreciate that! Have just discovered a couple more in the notebook so will post them and then shut the fuck up about it.

  3. KW
    July 1, 2010

    OMG! Can’t believe it – stoopid computer .. meant to say: ‘quite good masterpieces’ .. and Jo, it would be churlish of anyone to suggest you shut up about this for ages to come – terrific gig, great event to be part of, and something to tell other people’s grandkids! .. can’t wait to see the others .. {;o)

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