Sunday, May 06, 2012

Jug woman and poets in the pit



Jug woman in British Museum 
Egyptian bust, British Museum

I'm now questioning if the poems I've been writing since 2006 are enough for a new collection. How do they fit together, what will they be called? The working title began as Sweats, changed to Words for Women and a good friend, whose opinion I value has suggested I could use the poem title, Woman's head as jug. It's in fact a title Jane Fordham came up with because it was a line in one of her notebooks that I ended up extending.

So the first round of consultation has begun. A friend has starred the poems she likes and it's reduced the working manuscript by just over half. As a consequence I've got rid of most of the sections that were making it easier for me to navigate through, but now I wonder if they were only shored up by bulk.

I now have to re-read and find new connections between the poems - a new underlying thread. Another friend said recently we should put collections away for a year and look at them again. I wonder if I have the courage to do that. Maybe eventually, that will be the case. With these new poems I have the same feeling as when once I went on holiday and was convinced I'd left the grill on. On that occasion, long ago, friends went round, borrowed a ladder (I was on the first floor) and peered into the kitchen window. All was fine.

Probably the best solution is to keep writing as well as re-reading. I haven't written a themed book, that's for sure, but it feels as if it brings threads together. I said to Jane the other evening, when I went to see her cup and face paintings on show in a Trafalgar Street shop, that I need to approach the poems like a curator.

And it was a good idea yesterday to visit the British Museum. Somehow in the old statues, domestic finds and graves, I began to feel more confident that we're all bound by daily life. The scythes are still the same, the scrapers and earrings, the way we do our hair and the sandals we wear.

Energy's the thing and that was bursting out of the Cockpit Theatre off Edgware Road later, where I went to see Poet Jam with Giya - the final event of the theatre's Poets in the Pit week. Mrisi had a floor spot and was followed by a string of amazing young poets: Indigo Williams, Simon Mole, Zia Ahmed, Nadia Khomani, Pete the Temp and Jessie Durrant, all hosted by Stephanie Turner, a powerful, confident and talented young woman who's a SlamBASSADOR UK champion. Giya and I didn't get back to Brighton till after 1 this morning, but were both in awe of youth, inspiration, political direction and the performers' sheer integrity.