Last night in Lewes, UK, there was a chill in the air and, or so I’m told, snow on the outskirts, but it was warm enough in the Lewes Arms, my local pub, when it hosted the 7th anniversary of Lewes Poetry and showcased some of the poets who have read there over the years. I was glad to be invited back as I have happy memories of the first time I read there as, six years go, it was the venue for my very first poetry reading as I described in yesterday’s blog.
There was a good turnout considering we, the South-East English, are known to make an unnecessary fuss if the January temperatures sink anywhere lower than warm. The success of Lewes Poetry, and the reason why so many people risked less than mild temperatures, belongs to its host and creator, the wonderfully chaotic Ollie Wilson, poet and compere at these suitably anarchic events where ‘stage’ poets share the stage with ‘page’ poets and everyone gets along just fine. I read some of my recent re-writes of my first poems which all dated from 2009 and this seemed a suitable anniversary for their first public reading. I had been nervous about tinkering with poems that had already been published and, possibly, set in stone, but they seemed to go down well, people clapped, laughed and were silent in all the right places, and I left feeling that those rewrites of early poems still had something to say, but now had much stronger legs, considering that they written when I didn’t really know what I was doing.
Outside, as you can see in the photos below, if they weren’t at the Lewes Arms, or some other local hostelry, Lewesians were all snuggled up at home. Well, you don’t want to catch cold on a chilly January night.
When Lewes is busy, it is very, very busy, but when it is quiet, it’s deserted.
It is a real pleasure wandering outside on a night like this when the streets, or so it seems, belong to me.
I always feel a bit stranger than usual after performing my poetry – it’s an exposing experience where hidden parts of myself have a brief public airing, and, afterwards, I need to take time to return to what, I guess, is ‘normal’.
On nights such as these, there’s nothing better than a solitary walk in the middle of town, especially when it is as pretty as Lewes.
If you’re interested in Lewes Poetry, here’s the link: