Workshop, 7th May 2019

By now I will venture that you, my loyal readership will have appraised yourself of the minor triumph which was the 3PE, or Pitshanger Poets Poetry Evening, either via the life-changing perspicacity of your own attendance of the event, or via notices in the more reputable corners of the literary press.  I never read my own notices of course, preferring to pass that unenviable responsibility to my Man, who can be trusted to provide an interpretation of the review (often using the medium of dance) which has been gently tuned to the sensitivities of his employer.  I am delighted to say that I have never been disappointed by what I have heard, although many critics seem to be fixated on the quality of my neckwear or tailoring rather than my performance or material.  However, I trust my manservant implicitly in these matters.

As for the 3PE, it is my hope that as a result of our little perf, this edition of the PP Blog is fortunate enough to welcome a host of new readers.  I do hope you enjoy these vociferous ramblings and are planning to come along one Tuesday as a result.  I was astounded to learn, via an informal survey carried out by your correspondent in the Grapevine Bar after the show, that not every member of the appreciative audience was a reader of this organ, with some pleading ignorance of the institution which is the Pitshanger Poets itself.  One hopes that the welcome publicity which the 3PE has afforded will ensure its even greater import on the poetry world stage.  It is of course dangerous to over-think this sort of thing, but surely the awarding of a Nobel Prize to a certain Mr Robert Allen Zimmerman last year sets a dangerous precedent.  Here in the PP is an internationally renowned institution, surely doing more for World Peace than any other Tuesday evening poetry workshop.  Dare we suppose that the Committee, even the King of Sweden himself, is even now adding our name to the appropriate shortlist?

Well, they say, a poetry workshop facilitator’s work is never done, and never have those words been more true than today, for hardly had the afterglow of Monday evening faded than it was Tuesday and time for another of our vital gatherings.  Natasha Morganna lead off with a fiendishly metaphorical piece on the theme of lust, or was it?  John Hurley has been darkly reflecting (or is that reflecting darkly? For never has the question of the split infinitive seemed more important than today), on his own mortality in a poem which nevertheless managed to raise a wry smile.  Alan Chambers suffers from colour blindness, a condition which he used to great effect in the points of colour which highlight this week’s monochromatic poem.  Roger Beckett is a new poet to the group, but he tells us he has a large stock of work ready to bring along.  He knows as well as any other poet in the PP that the regular beat of the Tuesday evening workshop can become addictive, spurring the creative on to ever new heights.  This week Roger remembered Adam West, the One True Batman in many peoples’ eyes.  Steve Burchell has also been reflecting on mortality, giving us a dense and satisfyingly cryptic moment in the life of a doula, employed to help the chronically sick in their journey out of this world.  Martin Choules has been thinking about sonnets, and the essential role of the Volta in the same ‘thesis, synthesis, antithesis’ as my philosophy master used to mutter in his sleep.  Nick Barth has also been thinking about death, only he refers to the valley of that name, where life struggles to maintain a foothold.  Pat Francis brought the meeting to a conclusion with a sparkling piece remembering sparking ‘Blakeys’, longed-for steel reinforcements to shoes.  Peter Francis seemed to be holding a good hand, but he folded at the last minute.  Perhaps we will hear his poem next week.

Of course, it would be remiss of me not to mention another triumph, in this, the nation’s foremost poetry blog, and that is the truly-deserved elevation of Simon Armitage to the seat of Poet Laureate.  Of course, we at the PP whole-heartedly congratulate Simon and wish him well penning lines on the various Births, Marriages, Deaths, Bar Mitzvahs, Handing-Ins of the Royal Driving License and other sundry events that the role demands.   Now here at the PP we don’t wish to blow our own cornets, but we have been waiting for this announcement for some time.  The post of Poet Laureate is in the gift of the monarch, but of course the decision is made by the Prime Minister of the day.  Well, what with one thing and another Mrs May has lacked the, what is the terrible modern word?  The bandwidth to make a decision of such import.  She did ask her cabinet but apparently the only member of that esteemed brigade who knew anything about poetry was Mr Michael Gove, and when asked for an opinion the only names of poets he came up with were those long dead, or perhaps they were characters from Game of Thrones, the Cabinet Office appeared unsure.  Now, I’m not going to allege that this highly-reputable institution was in any way responsible for the latest selection of Poet Laureate, but when duty calls, one answers, and does so with all conviction.  I can go no further, save to suggest that mine might be a pint of Sack when you’re next in the Grapevine, Mr Armitage.  As you have been, thank you for writing.

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