Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Guest Blog by Pete 'Cardinal Cox', Poet

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year. As Poet-in-Residence for a church I managed to write around a dozen poems inspired by Christmas, some religious, some historical, some reflecting a handful of the minorities of Peterborough. I wangled a performance at one carol service, though some ask why I might go to such a thing being an atheist, I point out that my love of mince pies outweighs any ethical or philosophical objections I might otherwise have. The church also hosts the annual Holocaust Memorial Service and so I penned a poem for that too.

As part of a local circle of poets I performed at the Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival at the beginning of January. The festival is one largely of folk dance and music that also includes storytelling and (for the fourth year now) us performing our poetry in the local library. We always manage to attract an audience and always enjoy the day. However, any description of the festival has to include the phrase “Well, you know the film The Wicker Man …”

I was idly remembering a poetry festival I attended in Oxford ten years ago. On the Friday night I got to the venue early and so had a bit of a wander around to waste some time. When I returned I could see some people lounging around outside, apparently enjoying the evening air and sharing some liquid refreshment. Fortunately before I haled them as fellow poets I realised that they were actually using the homeless day centre next door. Well, it’s an easy mistake to make …

Sometimes you’ll get into a discussion about the relative merits of poets, and previously there has been no firm way to decide who is the better. I say previously because I’ve just bought the book “Poets Ranked by Beard Weight” by Upton Uxbridge Underwood, with commentary by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert (published by Skyhorse Publishing). No longer need we ponder over the relative merits of Lord Tennyson or Walt Whitman, as this tome clearly states Tennyson had the better beard. Sir Walter Raleigh or Dante Gabriel Rossetti? It’s the Pre-Raphaelite by a whisker (if you’ll excuse the pun). The introduction to the book is by Jack Passion, who won a title at the World Moustache and Beard Championships held in Brighton in 2007. By a curious co-incidence (and for reasons I’ll not go into here) I hi-jacked and took control of the photography lounge at that very championship.

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