Churning out a work of genius, insight and perspicacity week after week is a lot tougher than it looks. I tend to breeze into the Workshop with the fruits of the laser printer, evoking an atmos of ease and calm confidence, never admitting that I was wrestling with a sticky colon up until the very moment when I needed to leave the house.
It’s at time like these that I start to wonder, what is a poem actually about? Say a chap writes a piece about A and how it offers an amusing counterpoint to B and then the Workshop sidle up and tell him how well he has described X and its close relationship with Y? Is a young ambitious poet not likely to leave the group thinking, dash it, they’re the experts, if they say it’s about X and Y, who am I to say it isn’t?
A little research in the Archive revealed that this may indeed be the case. A young American bank clerk visited the group with a poem about buying a comfortable suit following the Easter Egg binge; ‘April is the cruelest month…’ As Eliot’s The Waistband began.
There was little doubt about the meaning of tonight’s works. David Hovatter wrote another poem inspired by a painting, this one a Victorian pastoral scene , creating a contrast with the imminent industrial revolution. Owen Gallagher brought a brilliant evocation of a session with a therapist. Alan Chambers wrote a new poem inspired by seeing a Bonfire Night Guy in the Co-op. Nick Barth wrote a piece about the rare occasions when large numbers of people are seen walking in London. John Hurley remembered becoming a younger man in a flash and then having to gain control of himself. Caroline Am Bergris evoked the shamanic experience of walking in a trance. Finally Martin Choules appears to have been poorly, but was he in love on February 14th or did he have a cold?
Similarly, a young Wystan Auden was living in a house in a rural idyll near Harrow when he visited the group with young Tom Eliot. Clearly sleep in the region of so many farm animals was a problem, but his poem ‘Stop all the Cocks’ did not go unmolested by the group at that time. Perhaps you are familiar with the final edition; if you feel the need, sleep well. If you have been, thank you for reading.