In the antechambers of heaven there will probably be a small room set aside for the purpose of poetry work-shopping. This might sound strange in the light of things I have said about poetry workshops, but I speak now of the ones led by the right wonderful Mimi Khalvati. Today was the first session back after a long break. A room at the top, a table, fresh coffee and a small group of us, each with a poem or two. We say hello, exchange news, fill cups and begin. We focus on the work, we listen to it and to what arises in us as response. It is heaven because we lose ourselves in this. The work is more important than we are. It’s the purest kind of activity I know, apart from making love - and the writing, of course, when it’s coming.
I have that whited-out feeling that comes after this kind of activity. I have overdrawn on strength again, but it’s worth it and I am an old hand at making ends meet. I borrow a bit from coffee, the well-timed snack and analgesics. If anyone gives me Good Advice about caffeine, sugar and pills I am polite because usually they mean well. I no longer welcome Advice, though. I am very experienced and know perfectly well that borrowing from those is like borrowing from a rogue moneylender. But I weigh it all (for each of us it’s different) and do my time with lentils and brown rice, grated carrots and lemon juice. Robbing Peter to pay Paul can sometimes bring surprising results and leave you with something unexpected in your pocket.
After the workshop I was ravenous and bought a bag of chips with salt and onion-flavoured vinegar which I ate with a wooden fork, looking up at Lewes castle and the sky which was dark and full of stars. Et in arcadia ego.