A quick post tonight to keep up with the challenge. I still have some work to finish, and the washing up will not take care of itself.
We had our poetry group meeting in the library. It could be a play. One of the members is very definitely on the autistic spectrum, and tonight he was on speed dial. Celia was placating and calming with regular interjections of “Right, right” delivered in a firm but calming tone. I think he might have had a caffeine boost or similar this afternoon, but last month he was much more connected.
Viv was mildly subversive, and made me think she was probably quite naughty at school in ways she could get away with.
It was fun. I picked a few Simon Armitage volumes at random from the library shelves. One, Seeing Stars, turned out not to be poetry, but short stories and monologues. The first I looked at began:
During the summer of 1996 I was working as a Tattooist-in-Residence on a reclaimed slagheap in the South Pennines.
Our poetry group has blossomed. At the end of 2013 it was an endangered species. The library, where it began under the protective eye of David, a library assistant who is also a published poet, has been closed for over a year due to a devastating fire in the building next door.
We were moved to a library some distance way. Numbers fell. To be honest, they had already fallen when David was moved to a different library and a new library assistant was assigned to us. Celia and I, with our dying mothers, had other preoccupations. In November, the local authority decided that if only a couple of people were going to attend, it was no longer viable. The group would close. Perhaps, when our library reopens sometime in the distant and unspecified future, it might start again.
Could we, we suggested, run it ourselves in the interim? Suspend it rather than close it, let it loose in the community until new stabling is found?
So we sat in the pub and discussed how we would do it. We needed a venue. The pub landlady, asked for her opinion, was happy for us to meet there. In January we marked our new group with an outing to the TS Eliot Prize readings by the ten short-listed poets. In February we were at the pub. It was the same night as a Labour party fundraising quiz night, and pretty noisy. But there were three of us, and later Reuben and Emily came to find out what we were up to.
This was a lucky moment, as they have a gallery space nearby, and said they would be happy to host us. We had already arranged that March would be at the poetry library, so on a chilly night in April, five of us sat at a round table at Hotel Elephant with our poems and some lager. Ronnie, Reuben and Emily’s new puppy, was so delighted to see us he peed on the floor. Continue reading
Two nights of poetry in one week, then none for a month. I may have to adjust my social calendar.
Monday was our monthly poetry meeting at the library. For a few fragrant minutes it looked as though it was going to just be two of us – the library assistant and me. Then Sandra, a good egg and an established poet turned up. With her was Fatima. I had never met Fatima before. A curvaceous black woman, she wore candy pink and black. Her eyelashes – surely not natural? – curled luxuriously. She was groomed and perfumed. She came over and kissed me hello. I was enfolded in a pink embrace. I wondered nervously how the evening might progress. She was between me and the door. She eased bare feet out of cosy boots and reached for the selection of poetry Trevor had laid out. Opening one seemingly at random, she read a poem that made us all laugh, then another. Both by Sophie Hannah of whom I had never heard. Now I have borrowed the book from the libary, read most of it and laughed out loud on the bus.
Pessimism for Beginners, Sophie Hannah
Poetry Group tonight, and a special session anticipating Burns night.
I can now truthfully claim to have drunk whisky in the library. But not to be drunk on whisky. My dry period from pre-‘flu to now is over.
David, a poet and our convenor, who works as a library assistant, had engaged the services of other staff who appeared ceremoniously with a meat haggis and a vegetarian one. We had our plastic glasses charged with Old Grouse, which make s a change from the usual apple juice. David had already read the Selkirk Grace, now he launched into Address to a Haggis and stabbed both of them (with different knives, obviously).
We also had oat cakes, trifle – that most Scottish of puddings – and shortbread. Continue reading