Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sometimes the old year doesn't quite want to leave and the new one's a bit nervous about settling in too quickly. So at this time of year you can feel as if you're looking around for the end and not quite finding it. Like when you're nearly at the end of a notebook and don't want to waste the last few pages but there's always more than you think and days go by before you can put it in the box with the others and start a new one.

So the old year hangs around in much the same way. Needing to be seen out properly, to have its own meaning, its own stamp. It went surrounded by three parties in the street - champagne, red wine and a cup of tea. It was the year of the Unilever leadership course I worked on, of a long stint for Creative Partnerships in Hastings, of some fascinating workshops with Gatton Park in Surrey, working with painters and a potter.

2007 is a little blank so far. I have given up many of my regular workshops, hoping there will be some new challenges. This month I'm working with the LSO over two weekends. My work for the Open University continues and my manuscript for a new collection will have to be ready by March.

Uncertainty, though, is the excitement of being freelance - I don't know what will come in and when and despite iffy finances, I can't imagine any other way.

I went to the launch of the new Poetry Review the other night. On the train to London a group of guys were celebrating with champagne. The smell of it in the carriage was tantalising, corks shooting from window to window and bouncing off heads! No champagne at the launch but there was red wine and a reading by David Harsent.

It was at the Poetry Society in Betterton Street, but it's so cramped. Some of us think nostalgically to the old days when the Poetry Society was in Earl's Court, a grand and rather tatty building, wonderful for readings, not a sweaty and unceremonious little cellar that makes poetry apologise for itself. At Earl's Court it felt as if poetry was still allowed to be outrageous, maverick and drunk, instead of speaking Arts Council language.

On the other hand, it could be my soapbox inching itself into these lines and it's time to end......

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