Workshop, 28th July 2015

The builders have been in the Archive again, knocking down the old retaining walls to make way for Phase II of our expansion project: to burrow beneath Walpole Park and erect great caverns measureless to man, wherein shall be stored all human knowledge, as long as it relates to poetry, written in English, since Shakespeare, of no longer than forty lines. Just as Kew Gardens has its Millennium Seed Bank, so shall we have our Billennium nursery to raise sapling cut from the Tree of Knowledge, ready to repopulate the Earth in the event of an apocalyptic catastrophe with snippets of verse, couplets to reseed the barren literary waste lands of the future once our daily communication is reduced to tweets and grunts.

Over at the Questors Theatre, the weekly workshop took place away from such bustle. Gerry Goddin strummed us in with his song about the brief affairs of a poetess while she seeks inspiration from the greats, followed by John Hurley giving a remix to an earlier work to tease out more of the story. Olwyn Grimshaw presented us with her answer to a challenge to make quarks poetical in their strange charm, and a welcome return by Helen Baker gave us a train journey complete with token sheep that was less Portillo and more Mississippi. Martin Choules has been watching dragonflies, which can sometimes turn up in the wrong places, and finally Alan Chambers has been musing on Alexander Nevsky and his famous battle on the ice, though he hasn’t brought any flowers.

Inevitably in a project like ours there are the knockers who refuse to give us the necessary grants or permits. Even Crossrail were sadly unwilling to spare us an afternoon with one of their tunnel-boring machines. So, now that we have taken down the Archives underpinnings, we must eagerly and frustratingly wait for the funds to continue. Meanwhile, in our recently-opened Theophilus Marzials Wing the shelves are already filling up with newly pressed gramophone recordings of recitations by the poets of today, carefully recorded at readings and presentations using our new state-of-the-art portable vinyl-cutting machine. The playback can be a little tiring as one tries to crank the handle at a constant 78 rpm, but it becomes easier if one prefers their poets to speak with a slower, deeper voice.

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