The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

A green thought in a green shade

The current mixture of work and pleasure is workaday and pleasant: both were combined at the Tatton Park Biennial. You know me, dear reader – a cultured, articulate, fair-minded soul – and I wanted to like the new art scattered through the park. I was ready to be moved, excited, even mystified.


Alas, I was mostly disappointed. The scale and ambition of the pieces didn’t live up to the grand location, with one or two noble exceptions. The giant rocking horse was playful and disturbing, and said something interesting about a country house and its traditions. A solar-powered refrigeration unit with a piece of iceberg in it was thought-provoking – a chunk of wildness in an engineered landscape. But pieces like this (above) seem facile and unsophisticated; a one-line joke at the visitor’s expense.

But Tatton itself was magnificent… and then it was on to the big city. I’ve been within spitting distance of Manchester for ages, but oddly uninvolved in its poetry scene. At last I made it to Dominic Berry’s Freed Up, an open mic at the Greenroom Theatre, and had a lovely evening surrounded by brilliant poets including Jackie Hagan (fresh from Edinburgh Festival) and

Cathy Bryant gets Freed Up

Gerry Potter. This event is welcoming for new poets, and a good material-tester for established ones; the mix of work was fantastic, and the hosting by Dominic and Steve O’Connor was light-handed and confident. The next one is 16th September, see you there.

I’ve been working hard on my beloved Bugged project, with co-editor David Calcutt. We were in almost complete agreement over which submissions to include in the anthology, and are now letting people know who’s in and who’s out. Oh, but the agony…. it’s far worse than judging a poetry competition. These are writers we’ve come to know through weeks of shared comments and submissions. I dearly hope that those who didn’t make it into the book will be generous and supportive of those who did. The project, funded entirely out of my own heroic pocket, is proving a brilliant and moving success, thanks to those who are taking part – I just hope they all buy the book so I can make at least some of my overdraft back.

Grinning chums in Alfriston

I couldn’t possibly spare the time to see my friend Ruth in darkest Sussex, where she has been working for Safari Britain. But I got my priorities right and went anyway. We drank wine in rain-blasted yurts, met with friends, did a bit of walking and a lot of eating. We found a fantastic book shop and a fantastic restaurant  – and not one to let the grass grow under my feet, I have half-confirmed an event for next summer with Moonrakers and Much Ado Books. Hurrah!

I just discovered that the Manchester Blog Awards are open to folk who, like me, live within commuting distance of the Rainy City. So if you feel like nominating me please click here to do so – ideally in the Personal Blog category. No pressure….


One comment on “A green thought in a green shade

  1. Jo Bell
    August 24, 2010

    Am delighted to see on Safari Britain’s website that one happy camper describes the ‘superfluous views’.

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