My car was in the wrong lane for the M4 turn at Swindon so I ended up tacking my way home through splendidly gilded autumnal landscape on Sunday. The workshop at Lower Shaw Farm was splendid too. Matt Holland, who creates these events, takes writing seriously - as seriously as food, which was also wonderful. Communication, he says, is more than self-expression, and 'that E M Forster "only connect" thing is the most important thing we do.' Thirteen of us gathered together to share words, ideas, reasons-we-write, and best-ever reads. Matt urges us to discover Anna Wickham's wry observations like “The true male never yet walked Who liked to listen when his mate talked” and poet John Richardson introduces us to Tang Dynasty Confucian Du Fu who wrote: 'We cry sour sobs till our lives end.' At the start of last week I knew how he felt. But this is all nourishing: yoga and laughter as well as industrious writing with lots of ah! and mmm... moments, and the sun shone all weekend.
Feedback is spoken from a circle of cushions, rather than ticked on a form for filing, so we all leave on a high from poems and affirmations of new confidence, enjoyment, doors throw open, and "haven’t been buzzing like this since Glastonbury."
Matt has reminded me of a poem of mine he found on the Mslexia website, inspired by a newspaper report that doctors examining a 36 stone woman found an asthma inhaler under her armpit, coins beneath her breasts, and a TV remote control in her thighs.
Why I do it
I am woman mountain. I swallow storms
like butterflies. Bees swarm in my eyes.
Below my arms are forests where gaudy parrots flit
through shifting shadows, between my breasts
are languorous lagoons where dragons fly. My sweat
drowns oil slicks. Turtles crawl between my toes.
In my womb the tribes of lost children safely sing
while wounded soldiers blunder through the valleys of my thighs.
When I smile grim rocks sweat honey. When I shiver
the moon freezes. I munch the rolling years for fun.
I am woman mountain. I chew death like gum.
And talking of list-poems, which I did quite a bit last weekend, there's a black-and-white version of Things that are Weird, from the Live & Lippy DVD, on Youtube now.