Where does the time go? 2014 is on its way out. Here’s hoping 2015 will be good for all of you reading this – and for me!
It’s that time of the year when everyone writes their high/low-light lists of the departing year so I thought for once I’d join in and think back over some best bits of 2014 before they’re buried under daily life – and before I head out to a New Year party – so, in no particular order or significance:
– Malvern’s ConFab Cabaret had its first birthday
– The Fox familywent to Athens and then island hopping
– I became a Man For A Day and read with the Drag Kings
– I grew some monster pumpkins and a lot of other (tastier but less magnificent-looking) goodies
– I had my long hair cropped very short.
For a scad of poets Jo Bell’s 52 project – and the accompanying FaceBook group – lifted our poetry into new territory. In Jo’s words:
52 has been the best project I’ve ever done. On New Year’s Day 2014 I knew there were hundreds of people who write tremendously well, but don’t always push themselves quite as hard as they could; whether towards publication, competition-entry or simply towards that most important goal of all, to just write better poems. I knew that the poetry world doesn’t use new media and social networking well. I wanted to build something online that would become a real, living community full of real, living people who simply find it convenient to meet in the virtual world.
We did it. On New Year’s Day 2015 I will know a lot more – about poetry, about group dynamics, about how real a virtual friendship can be, and, erm, a good deal about cat-herding too. I also know a LOT more about goats than I ever expected to learn in this lifetime.
There were some 560 poets in the FB group before Jo closed the doors (because it would have been too overwhelming if any larger). Some of us were beginners, some with full collections but all posting, reading, commenting as poets, as equals. A core of some 150 kept the ball rolling (hurtling, even), posting, critiquing and encouraging. Some people mostly lurked, shy or simply too busy with outside life. Some of us slid from one group to the other; it was all ok.
Anyone might have thought up such a project but, that the group dynamic worked so well, was entirely down to Jo’s leadership, assisted by Norman Hadley. The reins were light, critiques keen and goodwill always there. Meanwhile, as the year’s progressed, there have been more and more 52 poems published in journals and anthologies; poets signing up for degrees, PhDs and courses far and wide; poets starting new zines and projects; poets accepted for pamphlets and collections.
As I write this, crowd-funding for two books to add to the project’s impact is already underway.
Here’s to 2015!