Of course, when not being a masked poet, in my Clark Kentish guise of agency copywriter I have to write to order lots of the time. Just last week I was writing about heart pills for dogs, not something I had imagined myself writing about as I sprang out bed in the morning.
When it comes to poetry, however, I am not a writer who seeks topics to write about or quakes at a white page. It was particularly interesting, therefore, for me to go to a day organised by Abegail Morley, who among other things, is poet in residence at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, near Sevenoaks in Kent. I have followed her excellent Poetry Shed blog for some time but never met her. Abegail had gathered armfuls of poets and released them into the gardens, which were beautiful with azaleas, rhododendrons, acers, as well as many more native species. There were also gorgeous formal gardens, and lots of sculpture. There was even a yeti, whose photograph was in the leaflet, but sadly went unglimpsed by me at least.
I went with my pal Robin Houghton, who introduced me to Lucy Coterill, and we sauntered about the gardens discussing poetry and marvelling. When it came to writing something, I was surprised to find a poem came easily to me. I was sat at a table looking at a fountain with Robin and Lucy. Having dashed off a few lines I said ‘Boom!’ to jokingly dispirit the competition but Robin, who is worse at the naming of plants than I am, was already coming up with a funny poem about alliums. And Lucy wandered off lonely as a cloud to write a cracking poem about a statue’s inner space.
When it came time, for those who wanted to, to share their poems I was rather amazed at the high quality of the work. And I came away having met some lovely people, and with the start of a half-decent poem. Perhaps I should try this sort of thing again.
Below, a view over the Weald, Robin and Lucy, hand shaped windsocks, and a lovely rusted treelike sculpture.