The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Surreally good

It’s snowing on my blog, dear reader. Draw up a chair by the fire and let us contemplate the written word; a thing more powerful than the atom bomb. Consider first how it can make one think deeply about the universe, as it does here.

Books and cake. Who could ask for anything more…

Now consider how it can make you laugh your ass off, as it did in Manchester at the first birthday party for Bad Language – a brilliant, welcoming and varied night in a great venue (the Castle pub, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter). They are mostly short story writers, and on Wednesday Calum Kerr was reading. Putting modesty aside, ho hum, I will remind you that it was the Bugged project which gave him his first appearance in print. He was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar…. Calum read some of the stories from his Flash 365project: it’s been a brilliant year for him and seventeen of his flash fictions will be broadcast on

Radio 4 on Christmas Eve.

Kafka (left) and Harry Hill

Talented as Calum is, he didn’t make us actually cry with laughing. David Gaffney did. I’m not sure how to explain this. On stage with him was Sarah-Clare Conlon, no slouch as a writer herself but on this occasion, chic as chips and acting as David’s lovely assistant. She read David’s stories while he accompanied her on the organ. Yes, I know, and to be honest this audioboo clip isn’t going to help. You had to be there really; it was like a cross between Kafka and Harry Hill. One of the stories included the phrase ‘by now I could only achieve climax with the assistance of a women’s physical theatre company’ and the word ‘glutinous’. Suffice it to say that we were weeping with laughter. And I was sober.

Jackie Hagan. Lobstertastic

What else can The Word do? It can make you love everyone in the room. On Thursday, a blisteringly good gig in Macclesfield at King Edward’s Chapel. Rigged up with fairy lights and good sounds, the chapel hosted me, Jane Birch, Butterfly Jam and Jackie Hagan, one of the brightest stars in NW spoken word. She was funny, she was serious, she was brilliant. We finished the evening with stomping, whooping and actual dancing in the aisles. We’re doing it again in February and you would be bonkers to miss it.

And so, to London for a gig at Rrrants on Sunday night; come on down to the Camden Eye, right next to Camden Town tube, to see me and AF Harrold make fools of ourselves in a friendly pub.

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3 comments on “Surreally good

  1. Lisa Rossetti
    December 3, 2011

    Tel us more about what you’re up to in Chester, because that is where I live. I like creative writing, stories & story gathering – are you doing anything collaborative?

  2. Jo Bell
    December 3, 2011

    Hi Lisa – some good news, some bad news. The collaboration is between me and another poet who lives elsewhere – we were only meeting in Chester because it suited us both last week…. But the residency, which will be at Cheshire Record Office, WILL generate some poetry writing workshops in Chester in 2012. Watch this space for news!

    • Lisa Rossetti
      December 4, 2011

      Good news re Poetry Workshops; I like your approach to creativity.

      As opposed to the rather (in breathy voice) “terribly terribly Cheshire” approach to poetry, if you see what I mean.

      Count me in!

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This entry was posted on December 3, 2011 by in Readings and writings, Writing exercises and tagged , , , , , .
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