I was quite proud of how quickly I located the room this time. It was gloriously, fuggily warm. In the short distance from the bus stop, my feet had started to feel like they were turning against me; coldly unhappy in my shoes.
There were four or five of us there. I hugged the radiator and someone asked if anyone had done the homework. We looked at each other as though the question were a trap. I sat down next to the same person I had been with last time. As it turns out, I think that was a lucky chance the first time, and a lucky choice last night. We admitted we have been throwing the word anaphoric around all week.
More people arrived. The tutor came in. This week I am sure he dyes his hair. Well, almost sure. It was time for the class to start and the room was only half full. The tutor decided to wait a few minutes. It always irritates me when tutors or speakers do this. Why should those people who have managed to arrive on time have to wait for those who are late? I don’t get it. Maybe it showed in my face. Maybe it showed in other faces. Anyway he got on with it, swiftly recapping last week’s class and outlining what we would be doing in Week 2. Strangely, he kept saying, “Is that alright?” I don’t know what he would have said if we had answered, “NO!”
He knows his stuff. We get a nice blend of erudition and example, of practice and play.
Had anyone done the homework, he asked. A few reluctant nods. Would we be willing to read? Fortunately one brave soul immediately said yes. She had even made copies of her oeuvre.
“It rhymes,” whispered my neighbour, her eyes wide. “Mine doesn’t rhyme. I didn’t even think of rhymes. Does yours rhyme?”
I shook my head.
The poem was read, read again, discussed, explained. Next. Another rhyming poem. Some nice lines. Touches of humour. Some comments on the rhymes. My neighbour and I quickly swapped our poems for some pre exposure feedback. I was jealous. I wish I had written hers. It was wonderful. I loved it. It had colour, sound, taste, smell, texture, sadness, humour, tenderness. She liked “erased, rewritten” in mine.
A third poem. It rhymed too. About his grandad, who advised him “to always go Dutch”. Sweet, and it has stayed in my mind.
Our anxious looks had attracted attention. The tutor wanted our offerings.
“They don’t rhyme,” said my neighbour. Then, “You go first.” I did. My palms rather sweatier than usual. I made myself slow down and look up after the first verse. I imagined I was reading to my mother. Eye Contact, I thought. But as we were at the back, it was mostly hair I saw.
You know, I don’t remember what the tutor said, though there was something about assonance. But the comments were kind. I was the only one not asked to read mine a second time. I don’t know what that means.
Then my neighbour. You could see people sit up, listen and want to hear more. Then a man with a poem about his recently deceased mother which brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat, so I couldn’t even tell him how much I liked it.
I may not emerge from this a poet, but I have a golden three hours every week to look forward to until March.