For those of you who aren’t on my facebook, this weekend has been a mix of loveliness and trauma, in that order. The loveliness came in the form of my friend Manon, who got married to Dylan. Manon looked really beautiful and didn’t leave the dancefloor all night at the party in the evening. And I mean, she didn’t leave the dancefloor at all. She is Hardcore. The other nice thing was that Manon had lots of nice friends as well – we were sat on a table with two lovely couples – John is a poet and was on one of the writing courses that I went on at Ty Newydd about four or five years ago – I haven’t seen him since then so it was great to catch up. We’d both been asked to write a poem for the wedding and they were both very different, but I think they went down really well. Anyway, I danced all night, or most of the night anyway – no alcohol as it doesn’t seem to be agreeing with me lately and the DJ played three Rolling Stones songs so I was happy.
In the middle of the night, I was woken up by a really loud crash and I jumped out of bed, ran to the bathroom and found Chris lying on the floor, completely unconscious, his face covered in blood. I picked up his head and put it in my lap and said ‘Chris, Chris’ and he didn’t answer me, and I honestly, for those ten seconds or so when he was unconscious, and it must have only been seconds, although it felt like longer, I thought he was dead, and it was like my insides just fell away, and I felt completely alone, as if I’d not noticed that I wasn’t alone until he wasn’t there. He was all floppy, and his eyes were kind of rolling in his head.
Then he made a groaning noise and I was so relieved that he was alive and I realised he must have fallen over, hit his head and knocked himself out. He kept saying ‘I want to go to sleep, I’m tired’ and I kept talking to him, keeping him awake. Then he said he was too hot, and his skin was all clammy, so I wet a towel and wiped his face and head because I thought at least that will wake him up more. He gradually started to be more coherent, and then I was able to ring the reception of the hotel, who then rang for paramedics, who were there in about ten minutes.
They were amazing – really calm, professional, not fazed at all by the blood -well of course they’re not, but I was fighting down this panic the whole time. Chris said he could remember feeling dizzy and then nothing else – apparently it’s quite common for men to faint when they get up to go to the toilet in the night, because all the blood rushes from their heads to their bladders – or something like that.
Anyway, Chris had put his teeth through his bottom lip, ripped the skin that joins your lower lip to your gum and chipped half of one front tooth, but apart from that he is ok physically. We are both still really shocked – I keep thinking about the way his face looked on the floor when he was unconscious – horrible horrible experience.
Anyway, he is cheering himself up by telling people about it and getting some sympathy, which is unusual for him, as he is usually very stoical, doesn’t complain and doesn’t really get attention ever for being ill. We have been very nice to each other all day today – something happening like this makes you realise what is important in life.
Anyway, we are safely back in Barrow now – I’m writing this having had only four hours sleep, as we were in A and E in Wrexham for four hours so there will probably be even more mistakes than usual.
Tomorrow its Swan Lake and Clem of the Clough in a Carlisle primary school and Tuesday is the dreaded tax return, and the rest of the week will be finishing off my last remaining tasks for the Poetry Business Advanced Writing School on Saturday. On Sunday I’ll be with the junior band and a friend from music college running an all day workshop for the kids – so I’m really looking forward to that.
And here is today’s Sunday Poem! I needed something to cheer me up today and luckily I have the first poem from Jennifer Copley’s new collection ‘Mr Trickfeather’ out with Like This Press. The pamphlet is a beautiful object in its own right, with brown covers, ripped black tissue paper inside covers and tiny illustrations by Jenny’s husband Martin Copley to go with each prose poem in the pamphlet. The pamphlet is a sequence about this strange character called ‘Mr TrickFeather’ and his assorted associates and daughters and it is funny, clever and moving, often at the same time.
Jenny is my co tutor on the Abott’s Hall Residential Course on the 11th Feb (see tab for details). She is a widely published poet and has various collections out including ‘Beans in Snow’ published in 2009 by Smokestack
and ‘Living Daylights’ published by the rather wonderful Happenstance Press http://www.happenstancepress.com/
Helena Nelson, the editor of Happenstance, also does a rather excellent blog.
Jenny is a very good friend of mine and lives about five minutes drive away from me and I’ve been enjoying the various poetry things that we’ve started doing together. She was one of the first poets who really encouraged me when I started out, I mean really encouraged me. When we did a workshop together at Grange Over Sands a woman turned up who said that Jenny had been the person who had encouraged her when she was starting out writing as well – which tells you a little of the sort of person she is – very generous to new writers.
She is also a really interesting poet because she is constantly re-evaluating and changing. No collection is ever the same, or even nearly the same. Her last two pamphlets have both been extended sequences but on very different subjects. She is definitely quite a dark poet, but her poetry will make you laugh out loud as well and you will hear the influence of fairytales and myth telling even in this very small extract that I’m putting up today. If you would like to buy Mr Trickfeather you can get it from Like This Press at www.likethispress.co.uk
This is the first two poems from Mr Trickfeather- if you want to find out what happens to him next and his daughters – you know what to do! I obviously haven’t been able to put up Martin’s fab drawing that accompanies this poem either.
If you would like more information about Jenny her website is www.jennifercopley.co.uk
Mr Samuel Trickfeather by Jennifer Copley
Once upon a time when the earth was flat there lived a man
who was so afraid of falling off the edge that he tied himself to
the doorknob of his front door and never went anywhere but
home. He hoed his peas and potatoes but ate them raw because
he could not reach his cooking pot, slept on the doorstep
because he could not reach his bed, shaved his beard in his
reflection in the water butt. He was a happy man, sang like a
crazy bird all day long, prayed with his daughters in the warm
evenings, thanking God for sturdy zinc walls and the strength
of Rumalia Best Nylon Rope.
Mr Trickfeather’s daughters,
Pearl and Precious, were not afraid of the edge of the earth and
wandered freely. Both refused to tie themselves down to any
man, laughing their gap-toothed smiles in the faces of would-be
suitors. Pearl was large and fat with crinkles everywhere.
Precious was slender as the crescent moon. Their father was
ashamed that his line would die with them, hurled rotten
potatoes if they tried to reform him. He could always spot the
scissors in their pockets.