Raining Poetry South Bank

You know those moments when you just know you are where you are meant to be, doing what you are meant to be doing and everything slots into place and you have a feeling of perfect happiness?
Me too. Last night. South Bank.
I was late and I could hear the helicopter while I was still on Westminster Bridge. I am not supposed to run with my bad knee. But if you don’t tell the consultant, I shan’t either. And actually it feels ok today.
I reached the area in front of the Eye. Lots of people were milling about. Many of them ignorant of what suddenly happened. Poems were raining down on us to mark the opening of the Parnassus Poetry Festival. People were diving, leaping, running, competing for these bookmark-like pieces of cardboard. Then walking with them held in their hands. Watching the sky for the next drop.

Hold Onto Your Poem

When Pinochet was deposed and freedom of speech restored in Chile they bombed the capital with the poems they had not been allowed to say. It was a Chilean organisation that organised last night’s rain too. So every poem was in English and Spanish.
I had my point and squirt with me, but that’s no excuse for these poor pictures. Rather that I was too busy doing other things.
I didn’t give an impromptu performance of the poems that I gathered as this American student did.

Impromptu Poetry Performance

Nor did I hold them triumphantly aloft like this woman.

Got One!

But I did stand with total strangers and we shared the poems we held in our hands. And everyone was smiling and laughing. I met a poet I know very slightly and he told me he had seen a taxi stop, the driver leapt out, caught two poems from the air and climbed back into the driver’s seat.
There are poems fixed to the railings all along the river, with or without bicycles, as well as the ones set permanently in the concrete.

Poetry and Bicycles

It was fantastic. I walked home on air.
When I woke this morning, some of the mood was still with me. When I got into work, early as usual, I sat down and wrote this.It had been composing itself in my head as I pedalled. Maybe not great poetry, but I am not sure I’d have written it without the rain of poems last night.

Journey to Work, Wednesday
Hi-viz vest on
The cat safe indoors
helmet clamped on my head
I release the bike
Stow the locks and chains
Head out to shaded side roads.
A woman with a small child
in a pushchair leans forward
as though the angle of her back
will propel her faster.
I see Lucky, the ancient Labrador,
out for his morning amble.
The whole family is there.
Then they kiss and separate;
father and daughter,
mother, son and Lucky.
By the small houses two men
stand by their adjoining front doors
Their faces are still grey
with sleep.
Last night I dreamt of my
friend Sue’s mother;
of parties, champagne and frailty.
The night before, it was ginger cats.
Lots and lots of them that
someone was looking after.
Ginger, my would be Ginger,
was cat number twenty-one.
I slow at the intersection
to check the lorry driver
has seen me.
He has. But it is
the black car from the right
that ignores the give way
markings and nearly
consigns me to
Then forward.
A good run along
the newly asphalted road.
A stop at the lights,
down the cycle path beside the park,
and suddenly I am in
pedalling the long road
the film makers like.
Lucky with the lights this time,
both sets.
Now I am winging along, enjoying
warmth and air and space
until a blue car sweeps too
fast and too wide round the corner.
The driver’s mouth opens in an O
of shock, then irritation.
Another bigger park.
a gap in the traffic,
and I’ve arrived.
My favourite space free.
I head to buy coffee.


9 thoughts on “Raining Poetry South Bank

  1. How wonderful to be there, in the right place at the right time, while it is raining poems!
    That is like dreaming of the moon, and catching a moonbeam, silver and shimmering in your hands.
    I’m glad it inspired you to write something yourself.

  2. Great poetic ride, Isobel. I was with you all the way. Part of the joy for me is the changing familiar, if you get my drift.

    Love the thought of raining poetry. Sounds like a great vibe was enjoyed by all 🙂

    • There is a film on the SE 1 site, and so many people with good cameras were there i imagine there are lots on YouTube now.
      Yes, the changing familiar is a good way of putting it. 🙂

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