Thursday 30 May 2013

Guest Blog from Pete Cox, Poet

“And so my residency at St. John the Baptist came to an end. When I started there in April 2012 my vague ambitions were to try to write a poem a month, to raise some publicity and possibly write something in the style of a Medieval Mystery play (provisional title ‘Bring me the Head of John the Baptist’). What I actually got out of the year at the church were:
New poems, I actually wrote over fifty and they were poems that I wouldn’t have otherwise written. Every poet, I suspect, needs some inspiration at times and this proved to be mother-lode, though I did have to put a couple of other projects aside. Also this work was intentionally accessible as I know sometimes my work can be obscure or obtuse. We have a small grant so I’m hoping we can put a book together of the poems to sell in the church, but that is still to be sorted out.

New audience, around twenty of the poems were used in the regular parish newsletter and some others were used on websites associated with the church. I also got to perform individual poems at events in the church and at the inter-denominational service for Good Friday. Surely bringing poetry to a fresh audience is something every poet should aim for.

A new act, out of those poems I’ve put together an act of 30 – 40 minutes in length to offer around based around the fact that had you asked me before my year (and, indeed, as I was asked on radio at the very start) I’d have said I was an atheist and did that year shake my doubt?

As for my aspiration of publicity, I regret I only got one piece in the local newspaper, one piece in a local listings magazine and four times onto the local radio station. I had been sending out releases every two/three months but the fish weren’t biting in that pond.

The Mystery play remains a set of outlines and drafts of the loosest sort. From my mixing with the local amateur dramatic circuit I know who I’d want to play God (she’d be sitting at the top of a ladder reading the Weekly World News) and Gabriel (to be played in the style of a brash reporter, all “Exclusive: Virgin Birth in Bethlehem. Pictures on page 2”). From my few performances with a local burlesque troupe I had an idea of who’d play Salome. Perhaps something for the future.

The one remaining function (at the time of writing) is to help select my replacement. I know that the number of applicants is down on last year and when I recently attended the final of the Poet Laureate of Stamford competition they’d had less entrants as well. I have to wonder if a successful holder of such posts might not put other people off, because they then realise that these aren’t some easy sinecure but rather something that deserves hard work befitting the honour of the position.

Now though I’m not looking for anything similar straight away, but if something comes along, you can be sure I’ll give it a good consideration.”

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