Thursday, 3 February 2011

Lightness of Being

Tonight to the launch of the latest issue of Stop Sharpening Your Knives (4) with readings by editors and contributors including Nathan Hamilton, Sam Riviere, Hayley Buckland, Jack Underwood, Theo Best, Ágnes Lehóczky, Tim Cockburn and Matthew Gregory, all damned good, some edging into prominence, some already edged. It's a two part launch, the first part in the beautiful central bookshop, The Book Hive, the second in my favourite Norwich bar-cum-restaurant, Take Five. A good number of our current MA's come along, as do some of the PhD's, both venues packed out.

I look around and realise I have at some stage taught everyone reading here, and that half the young audience are familiar. I may well be the oldest person in the room, and C with me. I am immensely proud of my ex- and current students, both present and the many elsewhere (taught not only by me of course but by notable others), but feel oddly disorientated as if all the faces added up to vanished years, as I suppose they do. I wonder for a few minutes what it would be like to up sticks and to vanish properly into a large city without personal history. Or to appear as a kind of notable from elsewhere but at a distance, to be just a poet, not a poet-who-teaches.

There is a very strong, chill wind tonight that gallops through coat and bone. Home now, I can hear it throwing tantrums in the yard. Like most writers, I imagine, I live a great deal in my own head. The plastic sheeting outside protecting the plants, snaps, shudders and shrills on the other side of the window. On Saturday to Leeds. More about that tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Speaking for those of us who are very good at disappearing, I would like to offer some consolation to you - the years get eaten up just as easily if you are in hiding. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be surrounded by those I have influenced for the better. I'd be thrilled... then quickly suffocated by the weight of expectation.
You have a quality problem here- I would like to think you would enjoy the culmination of all your hard work.
Sorry to be anonymous but that's what happens when you turn your back on having a personal history.

George S said...

I do very much enjoy the culmination of my work, their work, and the work of others who have taught them. And I am sure you are right: time moves for both those who disappear and those who turn up at events like this. It is in fact quite wonderful being among those young enough to be your children - since they are just of that age. It is just that that then reminds you that you are older, and that though you may have made a possibly helpful intervention at some stage of the river, the river has flowed on since then.

They are very good. I name none of them particularly because I don't altogether like to think of poetry as a competition (so speaks one of the judges of the National Poetry Competition!). And of course I myself go on producing books and so on, far from tired, still excited.

But you must allow the odd evening mood - more autumnal than wintery - to flicker across. I felt a little evening-like on our return home. It's not a philosophical position - it's a mood.

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Gwilym Williams said...

There's something about a cobbled street at night.
Reflections, angles, space, a tentative wait for sound.