Leaving before dawn for London
I was a satisfying feeling to be up and off so early. Breakfast at home, plus greeting my mother in French. She jumped and squeaked, fearing I was a well-dressed French relative who'd just turned up out of the blue, knocking on their bedroom door. I never realised saying 'bonjour' could be so alarming.
Then I had an argument with my father about love and relationships before finishing breakfast, that's a first. We didn't argue after that.
While my parents had a normal Saturday morning I buzzed off to see an exhibition I'd read about in a blog. Striking and bold. There were 2 references to Celan poems, so I'll look at those one day. The best part was looking closely at the surfaces of the paintings, the golden layers were so rough and perfect at the same time.
One room just contained a heap of massive book things plus sunflower heads. Being so big and spread out we could walk under it and look right at it. I don't think in words, just enjoy it all uncritically, like feeling the wind or rain.
There was a tea in the afternoon, I helped with laundry and felt I hadn't done much to benefit the household. It is confusing to come, then go away again. I try to read between the lines, but get nowhere, just get used to the buttons on their washing machine and dryer.
I even managed to lose my mother. She said she was going to get some cash as we walked out of the cafe, she walked off, so I thought, towards the cash point by the market and I did something back at the house then tried to catch up with her. No luck at all, so walked all the way back wondering how she'd gone so far so fast. There is a machine at the corner of the street...
In a way I cause more trouble than help coming to visit. Maybe that is always the way, simply a way of passing the time together and doing more mixed up living. I get to see the workings of the household, not just the elegant surface.
Jo Bell/Will Burns/George Chopping
The drive back went straight to Oxford. It was a surprise to be so suddenly back in my familiar parking place and walking down Observatory Street to get to the Albion Bookstore. Very good to meet some familiar faces again. I suggested I'd do a short review of Life on Easy Street by George Roberts. So my reading is focused on that now.
2 new to me poets read out their work and we all had time to talk in the interval. Hearing Jo Bell is good. I know her stance and delivery so well now. If I read a poem of hers on the page/screen I can hear her consonants and accent.
I wonder whether at a certain point I don't listen to the words' meanings at all, just watch and listen to the voices. I watch sheep and cattle, observe, no more. I don't want to interpret any more, just see each person's ways. Since I don't have to reply or discuss, I can switch off and bathe in their music. So I was starting to learn Will Burns and George Chopping.
Once I am used to that I am able to sense a difference when another emotion kicks in. Watching David Morley change profoundly as he shifted from non-Romany to Romany poems. I could see him become more himself. I wondered why he bothered doing anything apart from the work on his Romany side. The rest seemed so at odds with his deep self. This was on stage at the Swindon Poetry Festival this October.