Well, it barely feels as if the New Year has begun and we are already one twenty-fourth the way through it. But the Ides of January are the slough of the year, the long Sunday sofa slump-out recovering our energy, our credit and our waistlines. They are a doldrum poetically too, with a great drought of inspiration and a great flood or lethargy. But that is no reason for the unpaid interns of the Archive to think that they can laze about comparing gifted jumpers and fidgeting with their phones (and good luck getting a signal down here, and the Archive wi-fi network has long since been postponed until next century. Incidentally, while we’re in this parenthesis, our resident ‘teckie’ is always moaning about the term ‘wi-fi’: “I mean, what does it even mean ? The ‘wi’ I get, but why ‘fi’ ?”).
No, January is the perfect months for cataloguing. Every tome must be taken down from the shelves and raised up from the stacks, to be measured, weighed, pan-toned, and have a census made of every word therein. How many of our slim volumes contain a suitable verse to express one’s vague feeling of regret at not remembering to buy more coffee the last time they were in the shops ? We will soon know.
Anyway, this week’s workshop showed no signs of slacking as Alan Chambers shared his relief about the restrained nature of the weather forecast and Daphne Gloag pitied the ancient, silent lyre and the crushed, trampled hands prevented from plucking it. Michael Harris has been complimented for his lack of love, which touched a nerve, while Pat Francis has been enjoying her early suburban mornings surrounded by human life, out there somewhere. Husband Peter has been recalling the looming prison which shared a party wall with his old playground, and the hypothesised giraffes on the other side, while for Owen Gallagher it is lost love and active imagination that is fuelling his reminiscences. Finally, Martin Choules has been watching the monkey and the organ grinder, both with and without his rose-tinted pince-nez.
Daphne, incidentally, has a new collection out from Cinnamon Press, so that’s yet another book to add to the Archive’s in-tray. I suppose we should be thankful that poets tend to be short-burst, long gestation authors, waiting for months for the muse to attend an at-home, or polishing a line to give just the right weight to the semi-colon mid way along. Imagine if there were pulp-poets, sprouting-out a disciplined seven-thousand words per day, knocking out quotas of couplets, writing metres by the foot. Not only would their verses be little better than random number generators, but they would run to eight hundred pages. And most galling of all, they would be selling them by the thousands from airport stationers and supermarket trolley-fillers. So often lumped in with such journeymen are the much-maligned greetings card pensmiths, but here in the Archives we won’t hear a word against them – at least their doggerel is short.