photo of ’52’ poets in the shade of a mulberry tree at Shakespeare’s daughter’s house: taken by Jo Bell
On Sunday 20th July poets gathered at Shakespeare’s daughter’s house to have a picnic. The interesting part about this was that most of the poets had never met in real life before. We were part of an online community set up by Jo Bell. New Year’s Eve 2013/2014 Jo was thinking about resolutions and she had the idea of creating a blog with prompts aimed at getting people to write a poem a week (52 poems in total). This has been so useful for me. The prompts each week are very interesting and I have managed to do each one so far, which has given me a file of poems to work on. Being able to post them into the group on facebook is excellent for feedback and it also motivates me to keep going. Reading and commenting on everyone’s poems is a real joy as well.
Despite going to meet lots of people I didn’t know, I wasn’t a bit nervous. I already felt like I knew the people even though I had only seen a tiny square photo of them next to the poems they posted each week. I had a feeling it was going to be very welcoming.
And I was right; it was a friendly and buzzing atmosphere as people rushed around introducing themselves and eating picnics. Jo Bell has done a marvelous job creating a vibrant poetry community and it has forged new friendships and some brilliant poems.
After the food and chatting we went to the Shakespeare Centre for a reading. Twenty-five poets were chosen from the colander (in place of a hat!) and I was one of them. I was a little nervous, but I loved the poem I had written so I was pleased to be able to share it out loud. Reading one poem each is also my favourite style of open mic; I enjoy the pace and changing styles. There was a fantastic mix of emotions and images: I liked hearing which prompt inspired each poem. Of course, being the cloud head that I am, I was unsure which prompt had inspired mine (silence or invitation!)
Afterwards, we all went outside and read a sonnet outside Shakespeare’s birthplace, much to the surprise of passing tourists. This was followed by drinks at The Dirty Duck and lots more conversation. A wonderful day indeed!