The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

The last post

Over at Somethingeveryday, my virtual residency ends with February. Who knew it would be such a brilliant opportunity? Every day I’ve had to write and post something new – and with one slight cheat, I did so. Sometimes it’s been raw and unfinished, sometimes I’ve been very pleased with how complete it feels – but at any rate, I now have thirty draft poems (I wrote a couple of extra ones over the past two days).

Today’s piece, then, was the last. I asked Facebook friends to tell me about the nicest thing a friend had done for them. They were moving and touching, but I couldn’t do justice to them…. instead, I ended up writing about my friend Shelley and I, on holiday in a place that dare not speak its name.

British Holiday

Pronounce it carefully; this is the Isle of Ulva.
The air is bossy, sharp with salt but clean as lichen.
You keep asking me, ‘is that a Golden Eagle?’
It’s a seagull. Yes, another. Put your glasses on.

We could have paddled over, but we took
that thimble of a ferry; glanced at the museum
of dead sheep and seaweed, then looked around
the landing place and felt the calm

which only comes of sitting by a clinker boat
beside a slipway. Outside the clapboard café
we shared a pint of cider, obediently wrote
our cards, ate prawns as big as handbags

and thimbled back to Mull. We spent the evenings
drinking whisky, and made quilts each afternoon.
Adventures small as stitches; broad as wings
as great slow birds passed over us, not needing to be seen.

Scene of the crime: Ulva

SED now hands over to photographer Jo Kim, and I hope you’ll offer her the same support you did to me. Meanwhile, I’m still here and on my website so you can find out what I’m up to – including a new online course for Winning Words, starting in April. Roll up, roll up – or find me on Facebook.

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3 comments on “The last post

  1. Aly Stoneman
    March 1, 2011

    Congratulations Jo, what a brilliant project and a lovely poem to bring the residency to a close. When I was an MA student, the tutors talked about developing a writing habit and writing every day, something I struggle with as I tend to produce work in short intense bursts. Do you feel that this project has helped you to be able to write in a more regular and sustained way and does it feel easier to put yourself in the write frame of mind? (excuse the pun!)Any tips welcome! x Aly

    • Jo Bell
      April 2, 2011

      Aly – so sorry for taking so long! Yes, it really did help me to write regularly but then the energy dipped again. Now I’m doing NaPoWriMo it might pick up once more, but without the personal target of ‘not letting Max down’ I don’t know if it will be the same!

  2. Paul Beech
    March 7, 2011

    That was a rich vein you struck with your virtual residency, Jo. Feel-good poems, feel-bad poems, humour…even whimsy with ‘Japanese Frog’! A chapbook in draft, maybe?

    At opposite ends of the spectrum, ‘Perhaps’ really touched me whereas your beautifully atmospheric poem ‘British Holiday’, with its beautifully atmospheric pic, had me singing Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the dock of the bay…”

    Good luck with Winning Words.

    Regards, Paul

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This entry was posted on February 28, 2011 by in Writing exercises.
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