Since going out for non-essential reasons is so unappealing, it's a good thing that poetry falls into the category of absolute necessity. I try to get to at least one poetry-related gathering a week through the winter. Last week I excelled myself and attended three.
On Wednesday it was off to the Golden Guinea in Redcliffe for the Bristol launch of ‘Play’, an anthology of 150 poems on the subject of having fun.
The anthology was compiled by poets Susan Taylor and Simon Williams to raise funds for a play area on Vire Island in Totnes, in memory of their small grandson, Reuben, who was killed in a car accident a year ago.
Several poets who have poems in the anthology read their work and the poems of those who couldn't attend the launch, and there was music, singing, joy, comradeship and teary eyes.
‘Play’ would make a wonderful Christmas gift, for yourself or anyone who's ever enoyed playing. You can buy copies from Paper Dart Press.
On Friday lunchtime it was Silver Street Poetry at the Station in Bristol, with very special guest poet, Alison Brackenbury.
Alison read from her latest collection ‘Aunt Margaret’s Pudding’, which mixes poems about her family and childhood with recipes from Alison’s grandmother’s oilskin notebook and a prose account of her grandmother’s life.
The reading was delicious, and supplemented by some excellent open mic contributions, while Alison completely sold out of books.
Then there are the things you need to do if your poems are to make their way in the world, that are often in direct opposition to the intensely personal drive to write the stuff. Yes, social media, I'm talking about you.
To try to market my poems on Facebook and Twitter more effectively, I went on a course on Saturday run by Josie Alford, who's half my age and knows how to do this stuff in an efficient and organised way. It was reassuring to find that I already do much of what she suggested, and that it was mainly a question of fine-tuning the process. Though I doubt I shall ever venture onto Instagram. Arty images of one line of poetry in typewriter font with a decorative key placed to one side don't really do it for me. (Though the aforementioned force of nature that is Alison Brackenbury is there instagramming away. I should be less reticent, perhaps.)
I think I'm always going to struggle with the writing/publicising balance, but creative writing is essentially a collaborative art, and poems only truly come into their own in the imagination of the reader. So I went home and sent out invitations to friends to like my Facebook writing page, a mere eight years after its creation. Go me.