Earlier this week, 3am magazine published three of my redacted poems, which meant I was on cloud nine for a day or two. They’d accepted them a while back but I wasn’t sure what their schedule was, so I’d forgotten about them. You can find them on the Poem Brut section of the magazine. Then yesterday I went to the Sheaf Poetry Festival and felt very humble listening to some fantastic poetry (including some exciting new voices). There’s something about a live reading that really affects the way you respond to a poem. John Hegarty says that with storytelling, ‘our very physicality helps deepen our and others’ responses to it‘. It’s the same with poetry; a live reading creates a special tension and energy.
I’ve chosen a photograph I took outside the MeetFactory (above) for this post because it occurred to me that so much of our understanding depends on how we ‘hear’ a text. We all carry our own interpretational ‘freight’. Think about that saying, every picture tells a story. You might look at the car hanging from the building and think of a story set in a scrap yard, or the aftermath of a flood, or maybe you’d go for a dystopian future where cars hanging from buildings is the new normal, or you’d push further for the big idea, such as hanging cars as a symbol of the failure of capitalism. I like the potential for meaning that pictures and words carry. And after all those poems yesterday, I came away feeling excited, not just about what I’d heard, but the space it opened up for what is still to be said, because for every story that’s told, every poem that you hear, there are as many others that remain hidden, even unimagined, until you sit down to write them.
Since I’ve been doing my personal challenge of 2 pages a day, I’ve noticed a very fragmented narrative starting to emerge (so much so that I’ve labelled the file A Short Story until something more fitting comes into my head). Attending the Sheaf Poetry Festival gave me some new ideas and prompts, and other avenues to explore. It was great to have that sort of experience, where you arrive thinking one thing (which is always what you know, and by extension, what comforts you and makes you feel safe) and then you leave at the end of a long day, full of questions that you want answering and eager to explore them in your writing. So, here’s to more festivals in the future (the Sheaf festival programme runs until 26th May so there’s still time to participate).
Hegarty on Creativity: There Are No Rules (John Hegarty, Thames and Hudson, 2014)
Well done on those poems, Julie. The festival sounded great – just a little too far for me to get there and back and I was away last week also. I agree entirely about the energy we can receive from different live performances.