A lovely neighbour brought over the gift of a bowl of hyacinths when the year was brand new, and now, in the very last weekend of January, three pale yellow flowers have bloomed gloriously and our hallway is filled with a sweet and spicy scent that we have grown to appreciate (we weren’t sure, at first). Andrew has solved the dilemma of collapsing flora with chopsticks, a pencil, and string. Perhaps not the solution an expert florist would employ but each time I walk past this charmingly workable structure, I’m reminded of why I love my husband.
This week, my main focus has been on editing a very short extract from my play-in-progress to send to Papatango which I mentioned last week. It’s the final session of Papatango’s wonderful, free, six-week playwriting course next week, and three actors are going to perform a short extract from each play sent in by each participant. I’m not sure if it’s going to be an audio ‘production’ or if the actors have found a way to act in person, while maintaining social distancing rules. We’ll view or listen (or both) to the extracts over Zoom during our final session.
I’ve had two professional productions of plays before (a long time ago), once with BBC Radio 4 and once with a small ensemble at the Chelsea Theatre in London. Both times I’ve been able to collaborate with the actors and director so that my script has continued to evolve as the process of performance and recording has progressed. This time, I have simply handed over my script for the actors to interpret and there’s no chance to talk things over. This is quite nerve-wracking! Even if it’s only an extract. Chris and George from Papatango have told us to think of the readings as a research and development exercise, an opportunity to see/hear our work in progress and put our scripts to a small test. I feel so lucky to have been able to take part in this course. I’m going to continue to work on the play once the course has finished.
In poetry news, I’m waiting to hear about a few submissions (just had a big rejection) and I’m toying with the idea of a pamphlet submission. I’m not sure I’m ready for another collection yet. I’m a bit stuck with poetry at the moment, and I’ve been reading prose and scripts because I’m finding poetry difficult to access. Perhaps a break from poetry will cleanse my palate. I’m re-reading The Great Gatsby after listening to a superb episode of In Our Time in which the book was discussed. I’ve always loved Fitzgerald’s prose and revisiting feels like calling in to see an old friend.
Very little else to report. And Other Poems has published its final poems from the most recent submissions window and I’ll write a round-up post soon about all the poems published in January. It was delightful to end the month with a gentle, contemplative poem by Helen Kay about the lives we encounter while walking in a graveyard:
They die too young here. The flowers and toys
imply all-day parties for departed friends
and two exuberant poems by Sophie Herxheimer including one personal poem about remembering the poet’s mother:
Sadness, mixed with
Is the new black
I was so pleased to go out on a high note at AOP with another month of terrific poems sent in during the open submissions window. The site may well return later this year, I’m waiting to hear news about a plan I have for making the project more sustainable.
To end with a thought of the hyacinths. Carole Bromley told me on Twitter that knitting needles are the perfect prop for falling hyacinths, and I can see that she’s right! But with no knitting needles to hand, the chopsticks, pencil and string are continuing to do a fine job for us. So I hope that if you find yourself drooping this week, you find a way to prop yourself up, even if you have to improvise. Thanks, as always, for reading.