Festivals!

Church Street, LedburyApologies for a protracted absence, a combination of working on a commission for Titian 2012 at the National Gallery (very exciting) and unavoidable family stuff (very not so exciting).

It’s that time of year again and I just love it! Spent last weekend in a field camping with family and friends. It wasn’t a festival, just a few people getting together, but when Paul got out the didgeridoo and David got out the guitar I was reminded how special it is to enjoy the arts in the open air when you can watch the sun go down and it never really gets dark. Paul reminded me about the magic of festivals when you have something different to offer that people want. I’ve done Glasto in the past, the jazz stage, the cabaret stage and of course, the poetry tent. I’ve done smaller festivals in London. I’m a basement bar poet at heart and in a field, I struggle with the lack of intimacy. Plus,  I find it difficult performing at festivals because a) I always need the toilet just before I go on which is always a challenge when you’re talking portaloos and b) I want to party rather than get on stage and all the nervous energy before a gig gets in the way of the enjoyment. BUT, when these tales are written I reckon they’d go down a storm on a stage in a field cos they tap into the storytelling round a campfire tradition. So by 2013, with my own personal toilet and appearing on the first day of the festival, you’re going to get Chaucer The Remix…

Spent the weekend before at the Ledbury Poetry Festival.  Wonderful as ever.  Hung out with Ledbury co-programmer, the hardest working woman in poetry (and a fine poet to boot), Jo Bell, the adventurous-enough-to-enter-the-Ledbury-Poetry-Slam, Jill Abrams and Longfella aka Tony Walsh, fresh from Glastonbury where he was website Poet in Residence! I love people who take on a challenge so I was in the right company. Through osmosis I immediately felt more confident and successful. So much so, that even losing my suitcase the entire weekend and having to wash and iron dry my single pair of spare knickers to wear again on Monday, didn’t spoil my gig. I was reading with the wonderful Gwyneth Lewis which was an added bonus. And I was reading mostly new stuff: versions of The Knight’s, Melibee, and The Clerk’s  (which I’d read to closed groups of students but never in public); and debuted  the Canon’s Yeoman’s and Prioress’s. I was really nervous beforehand but it was the right kind of nerves, excitement rather than dread. I did a full rehearsal that afternoon and timed the set so I wouldn’t overrun. I enjoyed the rehearsal so was looking forward to the gig. Always a good sign. The week before got some nice feedback from a variety of readers including two professors of English which also did wonders for my confidence. The gig felt special and there was a real buzz in the room. What touched me most was the support from Jo, Jill,  Tony and Gwyneth.  If you write both for yourself and for others to enjoy,  being part of a poetic community is essential. Thanks, everyone!

 P.S. I had a real theatrical treat after my gig. If you haven’t seen Flash starring poets Sarah Jane Arbury, Glenn Carmichael, Lucy English and Anna Freeman, you haven’t lived…

 

 

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