Tuesday 14 July 2015

Sparks (happy times at the Penzance literary festival)

The weekend just gone was one of those times when I'm super thankful to live in Penzance, when I think actually I will miss this place rather a lot. The Penzance Literary Festival ran from last Wednesday until Saturday and I was fortunate enough to perform poetry at three events: Telltales, the show I hosted: Poetry Tapas, and at the kids version of the festival. They all had a different feel but attentive audiences and great atmosphere and I really enjoyed all of them.

I also went to talks by Nina Stibbe and Tony Hawks on their recent books (had not read any of their books previously, but definitely will now!) and a workshop by Tim Hannigan on writing narrative non-fiction. If I hadn't been working I would have gone to lots more. Lots of local friends led their own sessions that all sounded great. Late Saturday night we ended up at the closing party with the band Gwelhellin who were absolutely stunning, what a treat - who knew trumpet could be so beautiful it makes you want to cry.

The word-full few days hit home again how much I want more of my life to be about poetry, about performing, about communicating and connecting face to face with people. Nina Stibbe encouraged us to find and use our voice - not to force it or try to sound like someone we're not. Tony Hawks inspired us to dream big, and then get out there and make them happen. Tim Hannigan reminded me of stories I've loved and motivated me to find my own.

On Sunday we had our last Speakeasy until it restarts in October. My last one :-( But a good way to end, exactly one year since we were inspired to start it. I've talked about it before - monthly Sunday afternoons of laid back poetry, stories and songs. It's definitely been one of the highlights of my time in Penzance. I think we had the most people we've had all year this weekend, and carried on the theme of 'sparks' that the Litfest had. I wrote this for my fellow Speakeasy and writer friends:

You are the sparks

You here
Are the spark chasers
Spark catchers

Be it standing out in the storm face to the clouds waiting for lightning to strike
Be it being stuck between a rock and a hard place, relentless pounding
Be it slowly warming up from the inside out
Be it dancing on the crater’s edge

You watch
You wait

Living with eyes and ears wide open
Senses attuned
To the tiniest glow
The smallest of glimmer
The sudden flash
Everyone else blinked and missed it
Didn’t believe it was ever there

You know the secret power
Of the smallest of sparks
To transform, to purge, to rage, to warm the heart, to light the dark night
So when you find one
You shelter it
With the utmost care
Protect it, watch it, blow on it gently
Build with pen and keys
Both structure and space to breath
And at the right time
Let it go
Watch the flames grow

You here
Are sparks
The sparks that have lit my life in this town

You the
Friends of fairies and mermaids and zombies
Asian adventurers
Strummers and crooners
Crisp munchers, beer downers
History hunters
Waltzers and shakers
Dream weavers, tale tellers
Star gazers and mystics
Rhymers and rhythmics
Web spinners, journey mappers
Word treasurers
Word sharers
You wild bunch living - down at the very end of the land.

You’re the embers that warmed my winter
The fireworks that made me gasp with joy
You’re the light that I’ll remember
Whilst you, the sparks, fly.

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