The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Making an exhibition of myself

Today’s NaPoWriMo effort is posted in haste as I’m off to pick up the reprint of my book. I’m on the road after that for a few days, so those of you who’ve ordered a copy will find it in the post next week. If you haven’t ordered a copy and you’d like to, it’s £9 including postage – email me at

Today’s poem began as an attempt to fulfil a commission. A few years ago, along with several other (then) West Midlands-based poets, I was asked to write a poem about myself to be displayed alongside a portrait by Graham Kershaw. Of course all poems are about the poet to some extent – but this seemed very solipsistic indeed. I wrote two poems, and finally used one called Fancying Myself as a nod to this rather self-indulgent exercise. The other poem, which I didn’t use in the exhibition has been reworked and I’m not sure whether it’s finished yet. Perhaps you can let me know.


Consider the poor man who found a bird
and fed it – scuttling as it grew,
unsettled by its widening eyes.

Unloosed, there was a mean
and meaning flurry.
She spun her head around and lifted,

starved and roamed. Accustomed to
a spare and motley diet of bones
and anecdotes, her shadow stretched.

She got the hang of it. She learned to lean out
as night fell, to stoop into the bat-darned air
sleek and bookish, hungry.

She did not ask for liberty. But now she has it
she will strip the minutes
from the mouse-flesh days.



This entry was posted on April 25, 2012 by in Readings and writings, Writing exercises and tagged , , , .
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