In my last blog (see below) I wrote that I might indulge in a spot of self-promotion. No need to: it has been done for my by Peckham Festival. As one of their guest bloggers, they have introduced me as having ‘won multiple awards’. http://www.peckhamfestival.org/blog/3941/guest-post-joan-byrne/
I confess this made me feel embarrassed. I did win Southwark Snapper of the Year, which was marvellous, and third prize at Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Biennial Exhibition. And I was a prize-winner in South Bank Poetry’s urban competition last year. I’m happy with these ‘accolades’ (and not a little surprised) but multi-award winning it does not make me. I just looked up meaning of ‘multiple’ and it can mean ‘more than one’. So, perhaps I should relax and enjoy my five-minutes of fame. Thank you Peckham Festival. Self-promotion: it’s a complicated and heady thing.
I have had a poetic weekend. I was a poet at the Poetry Café’s Fourth Friday in Covent Garden. That was great fun. Poets gave us love, rye humour, politics and a nice tale of a gasman. There was music, too, provided by Rattle on the Stovepipe –foot-tappingly good. My poems were about people: some famous, others not and a sprinkling of fictional ones.
One of the poems I read at the Café is published today by www.inksweatandtears.co.uk It is about the time I danced with Viv Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Only afterwards did I realise that the man, eccentrically attired in a dressing gown, was the Original Urban Spaceman. What an honour to have danced with him.
A blackboard on Barry Road (Peckham Rye end) is headed ‘before I die I want to…’ Here are some of the wishes
The chalkface of desires
see a puffin… say love you… see the Northern lights (with Amy)… hang out with my dog… (dog’s wish – to catch a squirrel)… make a masterpiece… eat around the world… meet David Attenborough… do well in SATs… witness the end of poverty… enjoy every moment…make my kids proud
The little girl’s wish is to dance. I’m not saying what mine was… and by now it has been rubbed away to make room for other people’s wishes .
Rye Poets at Ivy House
I am a Rye Poet. We are a triangle of poets. We live near Peckham Rye, which is one explanation for our name; the other is that our poetry can be wry. Tonight we will perform at the Ivy House, London’s first community pub. The pub was saved from demoliton a few years ago by achieving status as a community asset. That wasn’t the end of the story. The next move was to get the community to cough up the cash to put the business back on its tremulous feet. And it did. We did. Now the pub flourishes as a venue for all kinds of entertainment including evenings of poetry and blues. We’re in the pink!
I used to do PR for NME (New Musical Express), which is why I was at one of their parties. A man with wispy hair and beard, wearing a satin dressing gown asked me to dance. I didn’t say no, something about those eyes framed in round glasses, appealed. But who was this eccentric guy? I had no idea but I remember feeling quite self-conscious. To my shame! For it turned out I had been asked to dance by Vivian Stanshall, he of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. I have tried to write a poem about this and in it I imagine meeting him among the stars (once I, too, have died) and whispering that the honour was all mine. For he was more fabulous than a stack of Ming dynasty pots, finely cracked.
My relationship with my blog has been on a long sabbatical. Frankly, I’d lost my way. Writing about Peckham and posting a picture was what I did, mostly, and I don’t want to do that any more. Yes, Peckham will pop up, but I think now I will focus on small word sketches. BTW if you want a Peckham fix, check out http://joanbyrnesnaps.blogspot.co.uk/
Here goes. It’s grey out there but on the edge of my garden is something ochre, mustard, maroon, like a star-shaped stone on a ring. It is a wallflower. Wallflowers are bought as half-dead-looking plants with muck on their straggly roots, which you stick in the earth and forget until they bulk up and make flowers. I like not knowing what configuration of colours they will produce. This one is all the more precious for blooming on an ashen day in December.
When not flexing my camera I’m writing a poem; more often re-writing one… or doing the washing-up or sipping a coffee, listening to cafe conversations. But, back to the poems. The Rye Poets – Helen Adie, Pia Goddard and me – will be performing poetry at St John’s, Waterloo this Saturday. Our subject is death!
I’m the one on the left.