Saturday, 5 July 2008

Juggling chainsaws, flies and thowing hats into the ring

Off to see a BBC Radio Producer yesterday to sell an idea for a radio play which went well. This is dangerous I realise as I am already trying to juggle work on a poetry collection and a novel whilst having a day job. Why am I trying to add yet another ball into the act? Actually they don’t feel like balls, more like chainsaws. There is that prime time TV show which tries to do for variety acts what Pop Idol did for pub singing. I noted in the last one Simon Cowell told a man juggling with fire whilst balancing a huge blazing barbeque brazier on his chin that it wasn’t dangerous or exciting enough. I think he wanted the possibility of death or at the least severed limbs. Obviously 3rd degree burns to 90% of the body was a little less engaging than the possibility of a hand rolling across the stage and into his lap.

Of course juggling day job and writing will never lead to a round of applause from the public whilst you place the tiger, small monkey, vulture and crocodile you have been juggling with back in their cages nor should it. It is all self imposed, there are those who have no choice but to juggle the most traumatic or shitty things. Then there is the psychological take on it all, is adding tasks a form of displacement, a masochistic imposition in order to be seen as a victim or a passive aggressive trait so I can turn round and say, look at all I’ve got to do and you want me to clean the house as well? Note as I live on my own there is already a slight schizoid tinge to my view on this, some part of my head is telling me to clean the house and another is saying you need to express your creative side by doing something more than writing the word faeces with the green liquid from the toilet duck on the inside of the bowl.

After much thought I have decided it is none of the above it is the fact that I am crap at time management and a bit of an unfocused human being. Here I am for instance writing a blog entry when I could be off chainsaw juggling. I could have edited two poems in the time I take to write this but this allows me a bit of a rant a bit of a sloppy kicking about of ideas and thoughts, a sort of mental warm up to get the brain muscles into writing mode.

I could spend blogging time tackling the recurrent swarm of horrible fat bodied flies that seem to be appearing in my kitchen at the moment. Coming back after a day out last night it was like walking into the set of a horror movie or one of those scenes where someone comes into a room where a dead body has been hatching unspeakable things for days in the torrid heat of the Deep South.

I found The Fly one of the most disturbing horror films I have seen in years, that and Don’t Look Now. Flies magnified look capable of malign thought, they can walk on the ceiling and hang above your head unnoticed, they can walk on something really nasty then skitter across the butter in that precise second when your back is turned. If there are any cleaning compulsives out there I apologise for bringing up images that may have you running for the disinfectant and J-clothes and scouring every surface for hours. Unfortunately, apart from a thorough clean up at 1am in the morning and a liberal dose of fly spray that was the full extent my inner cleaning voice drove me to. There were only four dead flies there when I wandered into the kitchen this morning so things are on the up and I can’t use the necessity for regular fly carnage as another thing on my list to juggle.I am already noting I have real things to juggle, fantasy things to juggle and displacement real things which could be real or could be created to appear urgent and real by me. I think I may need to see a juggling therapist soon if this keeps up.

I have also been distracted by the little flurry of exchange on some poetry blogs and not a little excited by a thorough interchange of frank views and ideas that passes for a decent punch up in the Keats Head public bar. Some of the most interesting and impassioned comments have since been deleted I noticed on one blog but fair enough blogging isn’t like a newspaper; you can pretend it has never been after the event so even the internet archaeologists at some random date in the far future will be unable to get the full sense of the moment from the entries and it is the bloggers right to have second thoughts or even second or third. The activity seems to be mostly generated by male bloggers/writers with an odd comment thrown into the mix by women. I make no comment on that.

Chris Hamilton Emery threw his hat into the ring via his website at Salt Publishing on the state of modern poetry. Nathan Hamilton from New Writing Partnership and Eggbox Publishing then chucked his hat in , followed by Todd Swift with his hat and after that a host of comments from poets such as George Szirtes hurled the odd thoughtful Trilby, Panama or beret in. The ring for a couple of days became cluttered with hats of different sizes and styles. What is my point? Nothing deep and meaningful just good to see that people still have things to say on poetry and care enough to get worked up by it. It may be a minority preoccupation in media terms but poetry has been around a long time, its longevity as a form suggests there is something about it that resonates now and then just enough to make it worth putting up the sideshow tent, building the ring and encouraging people to come and look at what is happening in there. Of course the poems are always the main attraction but every now and then we like to see people juggling dangerous hats with perhaps sharp edges or blazing brims.

In view of my pressing need to apply myself, my posts over the next few weeks may be short, perfunctory and merely postcards from the edge. I am intending to pretend I am back in that basement bed-sit on the Massachusetts coast, alone and unworried by flies (only squirrels and mosquitoes). I may even post up the odd letter from America I wrote home two years ago just so you can picture me doing something interesting other than staring at a screen.

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