Thursday, June 05, 2008

"You can be seen as successful, but I can assure you as a career it's pants" says David Johnson at the Library Writers meeting on Monday. He's talking about becoming an accidental poet. "I write poems but I think it's a waste of time" confides a newcomer. David is sympathetic. He tells us he is rather against poets who don't use everyday language, although his entertaining new collection is called "Bombazine" so he must make some exceptions. David is rather against quite a lot, according to his Grumpy Old Poets manifesto, and speaks longingly of early nights with ovaltine although staying on to guest at the Poetry Cafe. "Love in a Warm Climate" is the theme. A full house enjoyed listening to David open with sustainable angst and close with sizzling anguish, and a dozen local poets sharing torrid and tender passions too.

Bath Fringe again, to see "Diary of a Madman" at the Rondo. Seb Steiger plays Poprishchin, whose diary entries arc through humorous to harrowing as this initially Pooteresque clerk spirals down through his own fantasies to the graphic solitude of the madhouse. Seb's solo performance is stunning, deserving the twelve-out-of-ten reviews he's been collecting, and the adaptation by Steve Hennessy finds a timelessness as well as troubling poignancy in Gogol's short story. The play goes to Bristol next: more information here.

Admit to watching reality tv and you get one of two responses from other writers: a flicker of shocked distaste, or a frisson of relieved recognition. For me, reality programmes reveal the psychological preoccupations of our community - and that's our readers. Rejection is a significant theme. I tend to skip the shows but watch the commentaries & the interviews with the rejected. 'The Apprentice - Your Fired' has been great. "Stop moaning about working in a male-dominated environment," scoffs the studio commentator of candidate Helene, "Life is a male-dominated environment." Oscar Wilde couldn't have put it better. Dyslexic Lee, dubbed by the Telegraph "oafish", is my fave to win. And of course, as Alan Sugar's Prospero bows out, Queen Titania/Davina is shimmying in... anyone else fancy Mikey the big blind Scots transvestite?

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