I’m in the diner on Curtain Road in Shoreditch. It’s impossible to maintain my diet when I’m in London for a few days. Mmmm chilli fries.
It’s been a weird morning. I was the guest poet on Saturday Live again, which was great. It’s such a honour to be able to rub shoulders with the amazing array of guests they have on. Today I met Sir Paul Nurse, a noble prize winning scientist. I hadn’t realised he was a noble prize winner. I spent about 20 minutes boring him about Norwich. Still, he was a lovely bloke. Guest presenter today was Rev Richard Coles, another top fellow. When I’m surrounded by such wits and scholars I realise just how young I really am.
I think I acquitted myself well though. I wrote a poem about one of the stories on the show. Read the account here on from The Guardian. I was a bit nervous about my piece because the tone on SL is normally a bit lighter, but there wasn’t much humour to be got from this week’s stories without it becoming tastless. I’m sure a great comedian than I would have managed it, but alas all they had was me. Below is the poem. It still needs a bit of tinkering, but on the whole it’s not bad. Apologies for spelling and punctuation, I’m dyslexic and it’s the weekend.
Two mums, a double kiss for each scraped knee
two pinafores hung on the kitchen door
two tellings-off when you were late for tea
but no father, yet, had returned from war.
In Autumn it hit you. Something amiss
Searching for truth behind a buried oath
but your questions remain a clenched fist
Silence seemed better than losing them both.
But silence hurts and a decade goes by
You find yourself on the brink of the sea
and womanhood. With a tear in her eye
one of two mothers is torn into three.
And the man won after his war-time wait
seventeen kisses in a blotchy line
the postcard riddled with spelling mistakes
Armistice Day marked the end of your time
And what was played out behind those closed smiles
You’ll never know. But you were left unsettled
One mother lost to East Suffolk Line miles
Westerfield, Brampton, Lowestoft, Beccles.
And then one day your face grew into hers
And you just knew. Rose among the heather
so you got to play out your teenage years
Girlish screams and hugs, until the weather
Changed for good. The silence began again
when, beside a hospital bed, you stared
The scar across her belly like a chain
Locking in the secret you never shared.
Then after that I had the unpleasant experience to hear that my collection had been turned down by a publisher I have vast amounts of respect for. Always a blow, but I was really hoping they’d take it. I really feel like to want to get my poems published now. I want to move on with my writing and this would enable me to do that. Still, I’m bruised but not down, and certainly not out.
Do you own a fiercly independent but incredibly well financed publishing house? Maybe it’s you that I’m looking for.