Just had a poetry workshop weekend with Jo Bell and Martin Malone at the Garden Café in Lower Lydbrook on the River Wye. It was intensive, it was enlightening, it was inspiring: recommended. Yeah, I enjoyed it. (I am knackered.)
So, to be cheeky (as Jo is not such a fan of form) and to be far too sycophantic (picking “Bell” as one of the end words was possibly a bit fick), here’s a review of the weekend in sestina(ish) form and rather short order (written in the couple of hours since return):
Small Lightnings: first verse.
The inaugural Small Lightnings weekend,
brainchild – I’m tired, clichés are allowed –
of pervasive poets Martin Malone and Jo Bell
in the gorgeous (if unreasonably, unseasonably WET)
lower Lydbrook on the River Wye
where new ideas could leap to life and form.
It would be bad form
to complain about the weekend’s
appalling weather; after all, that’s not why
we went. Allowed
to escape our day jobs, dank ruts, whet
our poetic appetites, flood our souls with Jo Bell
and Martin Malone, her noble
partner, fan of form –
admitting it’s not all wet:
that restriction perversely brings an end
to frantic searching – allows
poetry to leap into being – don’t ask why
or how that works. Walk along the spating, mud-browned Wye
where sand Martens enchant Jo Bell.
The river’s voice, not loud,
cutting landscape, scouring contours, forms
a free verse narrative, unending:
from mizzle drip to stormiest surge, all is wet.
Outside the Garden Café, wetness
reigned. Cosy inside, we could feel why
it was a perfect place to end
a working week, meet friends like Jo Bell,
write poems – maybe try some new form
that might lend itself to reading aloud.
Good workshops give permission – allowed
to celebrate creativity, whet
techniques, sharpen form,
fathom reasons why
we like this or that particular poem by Jo Bell,
before real life intervenes as it must end.
Now its ended, I’m allowed
to report Jo Bell and Martin Malone will whet
poetic-wise desires free verse and form no matter what.