The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Angling for compliments

Riverlands: the show at Aldwincle, Northants

Your blogger, looking confused

Last weekend Jo Blake Cave and I premiered our new show Riverlands, based on our travels on the river Nene in Northamptonshire. We intended to launch the show last autumn, but illness got in the way. So instead we found ourselves doing the show at exactly the time of year when we first visited the Nene – which felt very right. Here’s a newly finished poem from the show, which expresses the ancient enmity between boaters (like me) and anglers (like… them). It’s raw and unfinished, but you get the gist…

Anglers

We hate our jobs. We hate our wives.
We don’t like sitting on this box in pouring rain.
We don’t like nature much. We hate our lives.

We don’t like rivers, river birds, or countryside.
We ought to be at work today, but then again
we hate our jobs. We hate our wives.

We like a bit of camouflage. We like big knives.
We love a can of Stella; sandwiches; a pack of ten.
We don’t like nature much. We hate our lives.

We can’t stand this place; we’d rather be inside
but we don’t like our houses or our friends.
We hate our jobs. We hate our wives.

We do like throwing maggots at the boaters’ wives.
We don’t like fish; or fishing; other fishermen.
We don’t like nature much. We hate our lives.

We sit by locks and wait for cyclists to arrive
so we can shout at them. There is no end.
We hate our jobs. We hate our wives.
We don’t like nature much. We hate our lives.

Attentive but cold: our sell-out audience

The poems I’ve posted here from Riverlands are not up to the technical standards I’d expect of any poem I sent for publication. Part of me feels very exposed because of that – but these are poems written for performance. They have to sound good; they have to hold the audience’s attention, but not overload them in a show which asks them to listen intently for an hour of spoken word in two voices; and they have to work in the context of our narrative, linking Jo Blake Cave’s stories and my poems into a piece which represents a day on the riverbank.

At any rate, the show seems to work. We had a sell-out audience on our first night and a respectable nearly-full house last night; now we take a break for a couple of months to rework the show slightly for touring. These pictures by Kate Dyer show how atmospheric our first venue in Aldwincle was. We might not be so lucky on tour but fingers crossed!

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2 comments on “Angling for compliments

  1. garylongden
    April 23, 2012

    I really enjoyed the poem, Jo. Do tour around Brum, and if you need any help or suggestions with venues, I would be honoured to help.

    • Jo Bell
      April 23, 2012

      Thanks Gary, we may take you up on that!

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This entry was posted on April 23, 2012 by in Writing exercises.
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