The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Are you sitting comfortably?

…Then I’ll begin. Sometimes, you know, that big workload of 1000 tiny pieces starts to click and whirr under your hands. Things begin to drop into place, and you start to dimly see them resolving into the shape they are supposed to take. This week has been like that. Work on National Poetry Day has given us a better and busier website with blogs and video content. The Bugged project, my favourite brainchild this year, has taken a big step forward too – our book of creative eavesdroppings has finally gone to the printer. I nervously await a proof copy, to see what ghastly cock-ups I made in copy-editing.

I co-hosted The Comfortable Chair, a training day for librarians, with flu-ridden Steve Dearden of NALD. We were teaching them to suck eggs – no no, to manage author readings. We made them laugh, we made them do breathing exercises, and it felt like a very worthwhile day. Generally, librarians are mad keen to do their job well and all that stops them is over-work. Big society? Ho hum. If it’s all the same to you, I want to live in a society where everyone has access to free learning at a basic level in public libraries: not at the behest of a private foundation or a raggedy-assed community group, but as a right safeguarded by the government. Libraries are in the front line of the battle between ‘big society’ and ‘small state’ and I wish them luck. Not that you were asking, so….

….I also wish a hearty dose of good luck to Stone Book Festival (left) – a good idea in a lovely town, with slightly shambolic organisation. An A4 photocopied programme – or a blackboard showing ‘today’s events’ – or even a poster in the library window would have been good. Instead it relied heavily on a website which didn’t work – but the town is right behind the festival, and even in its second year it had some sell-out successes. The mayor, the vicar and even the local fire service were on hand, and the booksellers of Stone braved the rain; the local eateries certainly did some extra trade.

I really must get a haircut

Poet Alyson Stoneman wanted a tiny bit of moral support ahead of her work at the Lyric Lounge in Nottingham next week, which gave us a good excuse to talk and eat curry in the sunny cafe at the New Art Exchange. Then there were a last few tweaks to my own script for forthcoming play, First Person, and the beginnings of two articles for the National Trust and Magma. Thank goodness the latest copy of Fuselit appeared, with my poem Jack in it, to remind me that sometimes these things really do make it into print. Fingers crossed, let’s hope for another productive week… I feel a bit of a sore throat coming on….

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3 comments on “Are you sitting comfortably?

  1. alystoneman
    September 24, 2010

    Re: I really must get a haircut….me or you? haha! Thanks for all your fab help and advice as my mentor for lyric Lounge and fingers crossed for tomorrow! xx aly

  2. jane mathieson
    October 8, 2010

    Just catching up with this Jo. Many thanks for all your input- even catching Steve’s cold/man-flu as part of the process. All the librarian feedback was really positive- one or two saying it was the best training day they had ever taken part in.

    Hope you get to do it again for more people one day

    • Jo Bell
      October 8, 2010

      Jane – that’s great to hear, thank you. We have a ready-made event that we can now take elsewhere!

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This entry was posted on September 20, 2010 by in Readings and writings.
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