SOMEWHERE deep in my mind I had assumed poets were a bit like leprechauns... nice but essentially fictional.
I studied the work of many of the great English names at university –William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Shelley and Keats – but three years of research and lectures made them seem lofty and unreal.
My seminar classes were encouraged to discuss the Romantic sublime, Wordsworth’s ‘spots of time’ and the structure of Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. But we rarely, if ever, considered these poets as real people, talking about what they might have had for breakfast, or what size shoes they had.
So a part of me was amazed when I signed up for a Kendal poetry performance at The Brewery Arts Centre and found myself in a room full of Cumbrian writers.
There was a young guy with words written to musical beats, wearing dark-rimmed specs like Woody Allen, another towering over me at 6ft 8ins with big black leather boots (at least size 12) and then two sassy women in short dresses who put the world right one line at a time.
These four walls filled with real-life poets brought the art form firmly down to the ground. In the end I wasn’t nervous about my own performance – I was too curious.
Earlier in the day, my tutor, the former South Lakes poet laureate Ann Wilson, had given us titles to write on, a subject and a five minute deadline. No time to indulge in writer’s block.
My mind lit up like a Las Vegas bank holiday weekend and memories that had been lost for decades were dredged from my mental basement and soldered onto the page in scrawly writing.
I gained a creative glow and a red wine flush to my face.
Stepping onto the stage to read my work out loud was one of those experiences that makes you feel you can do just about anything.
It’s such a great feeling to be creative – but then to go on and and share it with others is brilliant.
More real than anything you can find in the classics literature section.