You know it’s quite busy being one of those poets

One of the things I never realised before embarking on a semi-career as a poet / spoken word performer was how much paperwork there is. Emails, forms, administration, poking people into action, begging for answers, all of it on top of the actual sitting down and writing. But it all comes good in the end and the results are definitely worth it.

For the last few years I’ve been running Poetry Island performance poetry nights in Torquay, and while the nights themselves may seem to run like clockwork, seamlessly and without any hitches, (ha), the organisation behind the scenes is enough to justify getting a secretary. Or at least throwing the occasional wobble. Getting poets together is like herding cats. Nice, well-meaning, talented, awe-inspiring cats, but cats all the same.

That’s why it’s such a joy to go to other people’s nights and relax, enjoy the evening, and then do a set of poems without having to worry about such things as timing and the set order. On Thursday night I made my debut at a comedy night, the Jocular Spectacular Roving Comedy Show at the Blue Walnut hosted by Chris Brooks. It was an amazing night of laughter and hijinx topped off by a brilliant set by the elderly poet and innovator of sound poetry, Mr Lionel Spume. He was fantastic, funny, a brilliant character-piece. I laughed so much that I had to use my inhaler.

And then on Friday, I made my second debut of the week, this time as a workshop facilitator at a sixth form school in Exeter. I was incredibly nervous beforehand, that the students would be monosyllabic, or perhaps downright rude. But they were wonderfully attentive during my performance, and then during the exercises, in which I handed out postcards to provoke some kind of written response, they showed such imagination and poetic flair that I felt very much humbled by the whole experience. Just five minutes, with paper, pen and postcards, and they managed to create works which had a distinctive voice and a beautiful outlook on life.  The hour ended with a question and answer session. I expected something along the lines of ‘Where did you get your tie?’, or ‘What the hell have you done with your hair?’, but the first student asked about ’embracing the abstract’.

It was a hugely enjoyable day, run by Kathryn Aalto, who has also written about it in her blog.

So it has been a good week, and next week proves to be busier still, with a radio appearance on Tuesday, (the Brenda Hutchings show on Riviera FM, 11AM, Tuesday), Taking the Mic in Exeter on Wednesday, and then Poetry Island in Torquay on Thursday night. I can’t wait!

1 Comment

  1. Inspiring! I enjoyed this very much Robert. Huge respect for all the patience, stamina and sheer talent. Peter


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