Monday 8 April 2013

Guest Blog from Pete 'Cardinal' Cox, Poet

Right at the beginning of March I went over to Wisbech for the final of the second Fenland Poet Laureate competition that was held at the glorious local museum. Every time I go there I find something new, this time it was a miniature portrait of Chang and Eng, the original Siamese Twins. No idea what that was doing in Wisbech. Usually with these competitions there are a few that you think are good and a few middling ones so you’re left thinking anyone of those four or five could be winners. Not at this final though, all twelve finalists were top rate and I was so glad not to have been a judge. For those who received Highly Commended certificates I can only say that they were very unlucky, in many other competitions they’d have easily got in to the top three. The winner was Leanne Moden who I’d seen perform at Verbal Remedies as part of the We Love Words festival in Peterborough last September. A name to keep an eye on.

The previous Fenland Laureate, Elaine Ewart, has a blog at Well worth having a perusal of.

Couple of weeks later and I was persuaded to be part of the judging team at a poetry at one of Peterborough’s Academies. In the thirty years since I left Stanground Comprehensive I’ve not had many reason’s to pass through the portals of any secondary schools, so when I was offered the chance to have a look around the Academy to while away some time I thought I would. Dance Studio. Recording Studio. Computer suite with sixty machines. I think our school had a photograph of a computer…Times do change. The competitors were pupils in the Academy and were split between rappers and more traditional poets. So not easy to judge, and the book I mentioned in the February blog post (Poets Ranked by Beard Weight) was of no use what-so-ever. The best thing about the slam was that it had been organised by the pupils themselves and that is encouraging.

On Good Friday I performed a poem as part of the City Centre inter-denominational service.  When I’d been initially asked I thought I could probably write something about Hot Cross Buns, but then, when working on that I started to wonder about Judas. Did he have free-will? If he didn’t, and Jesus’ crucifixion is supposed to be part of some plan, then Judas doesn’t deserve his place at the lowest point of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. If he did have free-will, what might have happened if Jesus hadn’t been crucified? I raised these points with the minister who’d invited me to take part and he was able to p
rovide me with some theological pointers and point out that that wasn’t what they wanted in my poem and could I do something about Jesus’ cry on the cross of “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me…”

Which I did and people seemed happy with, which isn’t bad for an agnostic like me.

Then the next day was the Find Me Keep Me give-away day that I’d mentioned in my last blog. As well as the Poetry A-Team there were art teams, craft teams, a music team and a theatre team. In the run up we’d scratched our collective noggins as to how we were going to give poetry away. One idea was to produce poetry beer mats so we could include a poetry pub crawl as part of our activities. Then we thought about sticking poems to old postcards and putting them into books in charity shops. A third idea was for a limited number of t-shirts, each with a poem on. As we’d have the poems, we thought we’d produce a poster featuring all six poems from each of the six poets as a limited edition anthology. Last idea was for a poetry lucky dip, just a decorated box that people could reach their hands into and to take a poem.

Ok, due to problems with timings with printers some of those ideas didn’t happen (but still could in the near future). I certainly spotted a couple of people with the poetry posters (A1 sized, decorated by members of the art teams) and the poetry lucky dip proved popular, though apparently one person returned their poem as they didn’t think it was suitable. My favourite though were the poetry postcards in the charity shops, as people will be continuing to find these for weeks, if not months, as the books are slowly bought.

For more details about the Poetry A-Team (and a photo of me in a dress) go to

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