I’ve been asked to read at a poetry event tonight just round the corner from my house here in Lewes, UK. The splendidly anarchic Lewes Poetry is having its 7th Anniversary celebration upstairs at my local pub, the Lewes Arms where I first dared to read my poetry at my first Lewes Poetry event in 2009 when I was still recovering from a major illness. I’d been told that it would have an open mic element so I went along, after much persuasion, with my little file of poems only to find that the open mic part had been cancelled because the evening was so full of invited poets including the much admired Lewes poet, John Agard, later to win the Queen’s Medal for poetry.
I thought I’d run away when I heard this, after-all, I’d only been writing poetry for less than a year even though I’d been lucky to get some published in various journals, but the organisers saw that I’d brought my poems so decided to fit me in. Several expletives passed through my head when I heard I was to follow John Agard, who incidentally, was quite brilliant. Actually, hearing this man’s wonderful delivery, forced me to drop my inhibitions and to ‘go for it.’ Well, I survived and have been back to the events several times since.
I’ve been rewriting a lot of those early poems recently so it seems appropriate to re-read some of them tonight as a gesture of appreciation to Lewes Poetry and all those nice folk who were so encouraging then to an unknown, brain-damaged and stammering poet wannabe. It would have been so easy to have put me off for life.
I’m not sure who else is reading tonight but it is always fun so come along if you can.