Life with A Poet at the Edinburgh Fringe

This originally featured as a guest post on the excellent blog 12 Books in 12 Months. Thanks to lovely Ali for the opportunity to post there. As well as checking out her blog, you should become a fan on Facebook.

It was also, rather excitingly, published on Huffington Post UK.

It’s not always easy being married to a poet. Young and I use up a significant number of babysitting credits, not on romantic dinners, but on evenings in dingy pubs, where I sit and watch him reading to half a dozen people. He is always shouting ‘that’s a poem’ in the middle of our conversations, and rushing off to scribble down a phrase or idea. And we spend hours trekking around stationery shops looking for just the right notebooks, because no others will do (yellow Levenger – A4 – lined).

I have always consoled myself with the thought that maybe, one day, Young would write a lovely poem about what a wonderful and supportive wife I am.

In some moment of madness, earlier this year, Young agreed to do a solo show as part of the PBH Free Fringe. He may have still been on some crazy, slam-induced adrenaline high after his time at the Poetry World Cup in Paris, or he may have genuinely thought it was a good idea… I will never know.

All I know is that it has taken over our lives for the last couple of months. We had no idea what was involved (and I use ‘we’ intentionally – this has certainly been a joint venture). Doing a ten minutes slot at someone else’s show is one thing; doing a whole hour by yourself is quite another.

There is the constant emailing about organisation, the Fringe registration, and the flyers… there are Tweets, texts, and Facebook event pages… there are press releases to send, photos to resize, programme entries to write, and blog posts to pimp…there is deciding what to wear, and how to stand, and whether it’s okay to read off the page… there is showing up to every other spoken word show, in the hope that the favour is returned… there is flyering in the rain, a preview in London that you really don’t want to do… and then that awful feeling of performing to two people, one of whom is your mother-in-law.

Oh yeah, and then there’s that hour-long show to write.

So why does he do it? What makes it worthwhile? I can’t speak for Young, but I think it’s probably for the small moment of satisfaction you get; from that one person who comes up at the end of a show and says that one of your poems has touched their heart; from that one stranger who takes the time to write something nice on your Facebook page; and from that one short but sweet review (she says, hopefully) that you can cut out and stick in your son’s scrapbook.

I do not grudge a minute of the time that Young and I have spent working on his show. Putting all bias aside, I think it is wonderful, and I am incredibly proud of him. I don’t even mind that in order to hear the one poem that he finally wrote about me, I have to sit and listen to fifty minutes of poetry about the other women in his life. I just hope that after all that effort someone (other than my Mum) shows up.

Young Dawkins performs What I Know About Women So Far at The Royal Oak on the following dates:

8th-11th and 15th August at 2pm

22nd-25th August at 3.15pm

You can visit his website at www.facebook.com/YoungDawkins

He is also compering the first BBC Slam Poetry Competition at the Fringe, details of which can be found here, here, and here.

Live In The Now August

Pink blossoms on a blue background with the slogan 'live in the now'

Although Scribbling Mum will no longer be hosting the link-up, I’ve decided to carry on with the tradition she started of doing a monthly Live In The Now post. This is partly a look at what’s to come in August, and partly a reflection on 2011, since we’re now well into the second half of the year.

There is a stack of empty pizza boxes by the front door, that haven’t yet made it out to the recycling bins. Mounds of clean but unfolded laundry are piled high on every available surface. Our plates are shifted from dishwasher, to dinner table, and back to dishwasher again, without ever making it into the cupboards. Welcome to the Edinburgh Festival. Continue reading

Last Post From Paris

Image of the Eiffel Tower with two pigeons in the foreground

Dear DorkyMum,

Well, it is over.  The 20112 Coupe du Monde de Slam Champion is David Goudreault from Quebec.  He was simply perfect, hit all three of his poems with calm, beautiful intensity.  The audience loved him.  The rest of the poets loved him.  He is a good and true champion. Second place looked like it would go to Roberta from Brazil after she scored two 10s during her final poem, only to have Chris Tse from Canada (the guy who knocked me out of the elimination round by 0.1 point!) score THREE 10s with his last poem.  And Youness Mernissi came in fourth in the scoring, but first in his elegant skills as a writer. Continue reading

Letter from Paris

Image of a bridge in Paris at night, lit up.

Dear DorkyMum,

Paris has a way of swallowing time.  It seems like just hours ago that I arrived here on Tuesday morning, and now it is Saturday and the final round of competition in the World Cup of Slam is on for tonight.

And what a final it will be!  Roberta Estrela D’Alva from Brazil, 33 years old, six feet tall, a beautiful confident woman who shines with kindness; David Goudreault from Quebec, always smiling, sure of himself and his poetry; Chris Tse from Canada, 21, self-aware and cool in an engaging, friendly way; and Younes Mernissi from Belgium, possibly the strongest poet among us, who puts together words in the way great artists paint pictures — you see what he wants you to see.  Who will win?  Who will hold their nerve and capture the fire for three rounds? It will be very, very close.  But the quiet consensus among the rest of us is that Roberta will be difficult to beat.  She is an Amazon warrior with a heart of sunshine.

But truth is, all 16 poets in this competition deserve to be here.  64 poems have now been performed in front of eager and enthusiastic audiences, and not one has been bad.  The youngest person in the competition, 20-year old Mathias Bungaard, is the only poet to receive a perfect score of ten twice in the same round.  The oldest, 63-year old David Morgan from England, an unreconstructed anarchist from the Old School, spins stories out of the ether and leaves people breathless.  The talent is so rich, and the people are so nice — we have become a community. Continue reading

The Knock-Out Round

Image of a hand painting the word 'poetry' in bright colours on a graffiti wall.

Dear DorkyMum,

0.1. One-tenth. It takes ten of them just to make a single one. A very small number, 0.1.

Five judges. Three rounds. 15 different scores. My highest was 9.8 out of 10. I had three 9.7s.

One-tenth of a point. And that is the difference. I did not make it through the Round of Death. My new friend, Chris Tse from Canada, scored 79.8. I scored 79.7. And Roberta from Brazil — more on her in a bit — came in at 81.2. They are both in the semi-finals tonight. And I will be watching from the audience. Continue reading