Since getting back from London on Wednesday evening I have been spreading the good news in my village and nearby town.
Everyone I meet gets an intro to this fabulous and inspiring event which is still underway.
Actually I started my mission after a night of too much reading and too little sleep after the Migrant Resource Centre event to launch the book of poems from the 204 poets from around the world. The book was on the table as my mother had her weekly cafe meet up. One of her friends read out Jo Shapcott's poem, then Seamus Heaney's. We agreed that we didn't really get it, but that wasn't the point.
I opened the book to the Soloman Islands poem on 'Praying Parents' for my mother's other friend who I thought might be more attune to this one. She read that one. I was glad to have been able to flip through to it, knowing it was there.
Then I thought I saw one of the poets from the night before, Nikola Madzirov, walk right past our table, but was too slow/shy to shout out 'Hallo' to him.
Later I went into the Northern Line Train tent on the South Bank and enthused before sitting down to write my first poem for a while. It has been an extremely difficult week, family-wise, so this was the only medicine suitable.
I ran into an old aquaintance in Sainsbury's and told her I wished I could transplant her to London for all this, she would sprout leaves. I explained how this was all happening right here, right now and was within reach, even walkable (in theory).
My sons know all about it, my cleaning lady, my friend I do the Artist's Way with and her lodger. I told her partner about it too while he was digging the front garden!!
What I love the most is watching and hearing the YouTube clips from the events. Then I look up each poet's name and country in the book and they come to life. There is a set of 3 interviews about it, including the other poet I heard in person, Shailja Patel.
A man I sat next to at the book's launch on Tuesday wondered if anyone would read the poems. I suggested that the collection was not just for us now, but for people in 200 or 300 years' time. We were both flipping through to find particular countries which were most important for us, Iraq, France, Serbia, Bahrain.
I was unable to find the UK or England and felt sad that being the host country meant we were not important. Eventually I found Great Britain by chance and felt better, though I wondered what had become of Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.
Video of the Rain of Poetry and photos of the EnglishPEN event. A 2nd Rain of Poetry video.
Curiously on the Casagrande website there is a video of a man talking about the bombing of London during the war. This was exactly one of the topics I mentioned to the man I sat with at the Poetry event, how the new buildings in the middle of streets in Pimlico mark the spots where there used to be bombsites. I explained, waving with my arms, how the brick walls on each side of a bomb site used to be supported with these huge wooden struts and how there used be to hoardings all along by the pavement with the deep hole hidden behind it.