The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

The nights are drawing in…

…and at Shambala, where flowers grow large and fine poets thrive, my festival season drew to a close. The poets

See those legs? Hilarious

included the tireless Dreadlockalien, topical Pete the Temp, regal Jean Binta Breeze and… er… me. Here are my legs, appearing (with me) on the Compass of Lunacy stage before an audience of chortling punters. If the audience is smiling, it must be because I’ve just announced that Tony Walsh is coming on next.

Sometimes my work gives me a chance to shine a light on wonderful contemporary poetry that others may not have encountered. I just edited the latest Poetry in the Waiting Room leaflet for the Royal Derby Hospital,

Hanging up our cans? Not yet

which will bring to a particularly receptive audience some beautiful poems by Jim Caruth, Gill McEvoy and CJ Allen. I won’t bore you at length with my Bugged project because there is another blog to do that: but David Calcutt and I have selected the material for the book, and it is a joy to be getting ‘thank you’ messages from those who are in it – as well as gracious mails from some who aren’t. As the book and its twin launch events come together, we are getting a sense of the strong writerly community we’ve created.

Rehearsals at Action Transport Theatre

After the summer break, rehearsals started again for my short play about Gertrude Bell (tragically no longer called Aching for Dick but First Person, more appropriate in every sense). Above all, I’ve been working hard on National Poetry Day which is now barely a month away… aaaaaargh.

Lud's Church. Pretty green, eh?

No, that's not me abseiling

But there has been time to visit two atmospheric places which are literally the stuff of legend. That’s ‘literally’ as in ‘literally’, not as Radio 4 guests like to use it – ‘I was literally bowled over by his statement, Evan’. The first was Lud’s Church, supposed site of the Green Knight’s chapel from Gawain and the Green Knight. It’s quiet and mystical, properly awe-inspiring – even when full of Bank Holiday walkers. The second, equally other-worldly, was the Alderley Edge copper mine complex which inspired some of Alan Garner‘s weird and wonderful books. Bronze Age smelters got their copper here. In the tighter squeezes it brought back panicky memories of underground cities of Cappadocia, where I worked in my archaeology years.

Another week, another set of deadlines: and the nights really are drawing in. But sod it, life has its consolations. Here’s one of them – a new resident here at the Macclesfield Home for the Unusual. Colin the Cormorant is not only elegant and attractive, but he has another great virtue – he really pisses the anglers off. Tra la la… and finally, have a look here to see a word cloud based on this blog. It’s like looking inside my own head. Who knew I used the word ‘elephants’ so much?

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One comment on “The nights are drawing in…

  1. richlakin
    October 23, 2010

    Liked your image of Lud’s Church. I agree it is an incredible place and featured in BBC’s Secret Britain recently.The atmoshpere is incredible. A section of the Shropshire Union Canal near Norbury is similarly emerald green and other-wordly…..

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