The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Spread the word!

Thursday October 7th

If you can smell something in the autumn air, dear reader, that is because all my projects are coming to fruition at once. And if the days seem shorter, let me assure you that mine are very long indeed – National Poetry Day (of which I’m the Director, forsooth) draws nigh. All that can be done has been done, and our theme of HOME seems popular. But still, so many people who are running poetry events don’t list them on the easy NPD listing page. Sometimes I think

Tiny booklets, big message

that we poetry activists have small ambitions for our art form. We like to arrange poetry events, and advertise them to a captive local audience or to our own mailing list, but don’t offer much to the thousands of casual, interested-once-a-year people for whom NPD is their only contact with poetry. Come on folks: spread the word about your events and reel in a new audience for free. And if you’re on Facebook, why not join our page or  change your status on the day to wear your heart on your profile? One of my favourite NPD events comes from Poetry Found, who are issuing poets across the country with tiny booklets to secrete around the UK. You might discover one in a library book, under a coaster in the coffee shop or at the garage in Macclesfield, where I just left one myself…

The festival calendar is moving on too – from big muddy dancing-in-a-field festivals to quiet, thoughtful talking-indoors festivals. Plenty of events coming up; and as part of Marple Festival I did a workshop on poetry and archaeology, which was well attended and productive. Then there was a repeat performance with Steve Dearden (of the brilliant NALD organisation for literature professionals) of our event The Comfortable Chair – a training day for hard-pressed librarians who are expected, on top of their usual workload, to chair author events too. And they do – so we gave them some tips and pointers, this time in Sale’s lovely Waterside Centre.

No treacle but plenty of sausage rolls...

There was a festive feel too at Macclesfield’s Treacle Market on Sunday. Unbelievably it was only the second one – the Treacle Market is an invention of Jane Munro and Debbie Quinn, and yet it feels as if it has always been a feature of the town. The cobbles rang with lovely music from Les Peches, and were scented with the smell of proper sausage sandwiches and local beer. Our market square was again filled with brilliant, high-quality art, textiles and bric-a-brac. The next one is on Hallowe’en, the last Sunday in October. Get down here for toffee apples, cakes and bargain hunting.

I began teaching at MMU Crewe this week – to a small, but perfectly formed class of students on my Writer’s Craft module. They were still awake at the end so I think that’s at least a partial success. Meanwhile our Bugged book is hurtling towards its physical incarnation… the digital printers are smearing ink across their computer screens, or whatever they do, as we speak. If you took part in the big Bugged experiment, head over to the website to add your mark to our map and take part in a little competition. And here’s the cover of the book we’ll be launching on October 14th at Manchester Literature Festival – woooooo!

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2 comments on “Spread the word!

  1. angelatopping
    September 30, 2010

    Keep up the good work for our shared passion of poetry, Jo. The more we can all do to make the world fall in love with the best and most accessible art form, and one of the oldest, the better. So looking forward to our two readings together.

    • Jo Bell
      September 30, 2010

      Quite right – nice to be appreciated!

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