The Archives are of late more keyed up than a locksmiths as we anticipate the Poetry Event of the Season, hosted by our erstwhile landlords the Questors Theatre on Monday 9th March. Now, London being the cosmopolitan and fully literate city that it is, poetry is not an unknown occurrence in its many tea bars and coffee palaces, but rumour has it that this one will be extra special, and who are we to doubt the honesty of rumour ? The theme of the evening is how the fairer sexx (with two x-chromosomes) has been depicted at the nib of the quill, both through the eyes of gazing males and emancipated maidens. Should be interesting, thoughtful, and definitely not a lecture.
But while we wait for that, we had a wonderful workshop to be getting on with, set off by Alan Chambers giving us a knee-trembler – was it all a crock ? Well really, monsieur ! John Hurley, now that’s he’s found the caps lock key, has been in a philosophic mood while riding his bicycle through the lower levels of limbo, and Peter Francis has been soaking up the low Winter Sun while the Spring flowers were doing their thing. Meanwhile Doig Simmonds has been looking to employ a very particular type of nurse, leading onto Rosemary Hodi’s fantastical stars in two alternative versions, almost like parallel universes. Roger Beckett then screened an unaired episode of a popular espionage drama where the spies decide to take the day off, while in a shaped-on-the-page poem from Pat Francis, we explored creation in full sound and vision, and quite literally had a ball, enabling Martin Choules to be the fat lady as he sang out his praises to the dreaded plastic.
Theatres have often played host to the airiest of the artforms, and even Shakespeare knew well enough to end his speeches with a rhyming couplet to wake up the audience. By the time that the Pitshanger Poets were a thing, Johnny Dryden would often preview passages of his latest comedy to the workshop, always unceasingly rhymed for page after page, to such an extent that Andy Marvell is recorded to mutter “I wish he would write about a silver Prince of Orange atop a purple plinth.”