Last Thursday I was at Roehampton University where I’d been invited by Principal Lecturer Louise Tondeur to talk to her Creative Writing students about Telltale Press, collaborative working, the importance of submitting work to magazines, marketing your work/yourself, that sort of thing. I get a bit scared when faced by a room of people (mostly) under 21 – I find it impossible to tell if they’re interested or even listening. I suppose all my teaching experience has been with adults who are uninhibited about showing enthusiasm or appreciation, asking questions, and engaging fully. And yet the general feedback afterwards was great, and several people wanted to talk to me individually. I was even invited to the students’ showcase event to hear their work. Once again I was reminded of my great admiration for our overworked and underpaid teachers and lecturers.
Monday: to the Troubadour. Anne-Marie Fyfe’s Coffee House Poetry nights at the Troubadour are always well attended. On Monday it was standing room only, and I was lucky to get a seat. The nice thing about everyone squashing up together is you always meet new people, which is great if you go on your own. The room heaves with published poets. Plus there’s always some kind of surprise guest in the audience – or the rumour of one. It all adds to the mystique. The season finale nights are long, with over 60 poets each reading a poem. I haven’t yet made it to the end, only because I have to get the second-to-last train home (the last being over an hour later). But I always enjoy the night. It has to be the most successful poetry night in London… unless you know differently?
Last night: Hastings Stanza. One of the fun things about having relocated to Eastbourne is discovering parts of Sussex I’d never much explored before. I’ve yet to really spend time in Hastings, but it’s less than half an hour on the train and pootling over to the Stanza evenings is a pleasure.
I’ve mentioned before how Antony Mair runs the group with such an air of organised calm. And there’s always something interesting coming up – Antony and Jill Fricker are currently collaborating with local choirs on a project to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, and last night Jill brought along a lovely poem about Harold’s widow identifying him after the battle by his tattoos. Meanwhile Antony had been to a Live Canon workshop day and subsequently been invited to contribute to an anthology of responses to Shakespeare’s sonnets (another anniversary). He was kind enough to get me invited too, so more about this in another post.
The Hastings Stanza poets are taking part in a World Poetry Day event in Eastbourne on March 21st and a Stanza Bonanza in London in April. All good stuff.
Spring is definitely here – there are lots of readings coming up (more in another post) and next week I’m looking forward to the launch of Lynne Hjelmgaard’s collection A Boat Called Annalise (Seren). Having heard many of the poems in the workshop stage it will be fascinating – plus lovely to see Lynne’s poetry being celebrated. She’s a good friend and mentor, generous and modest about her writing.