Monthly Archives: February 2017

While Rome Burns

My Writing Life

It is so easy to lose track of public and political events as the media usually go for the dramatic moment rather than the continuing horrors. They give us one heart-breaking image and then move on the next. However in the meantime the horrors are still going on and not going away or getting any less horrific.

In recent weeks I have become interested in the ideas and writing of Hannah Arendt circulated in the papers and on Radio 4. (Listen to the ‘In our Time’ programme if you can.) She is best known for coining the phrase ‘the banality of evil’ in her writing about the trial of Eichmann in 1960. ‘Banal’ is not a word we would use about evil nowadays as it has the connotation of something a bit trivial and unimportant. However, it does now seem to me that the current spate of evil and misguided doings and decisions affecting all of us is moving towards becoming more ordinary and every day, more acceptable because we are not constantly given dramatic reminders of it, as the headline news moves back to its preoccupation with the lives of celebrities and the football results, fiddling while Rome burns..

However, I remain preoccupied, checking the media, usually the BBC website, for Trump horror stories every day, and searching, in vain, for signs that someone has called to a halt the mad road to Brexit we seem to be following. When I look back at the blogs I wrote this time last year, they are all about my writing and don’t mention politics because at that point neither Brexit nor the Trump presidency seemed a possibility, let alone a reality with which we are coming to terms. So if my blog has turned political then I make no excuse, as so has my writing. Since completing the sequence about the homeless shelter I have found myself writing, and indeed struggling to write, two poems about the present political disasters, and my feelings about them. I think this is all we can do is watch and keep watching, and wait and write.

As I finished writing the above paragraph, the doorbell rang. It was my friend Christine, an artist with whom I collaborated in 2008 on a project entitled Watching Walls for which I wrote and performed an integrated performance entitled A Place Among the Stones. So Christine arrived at the door to say she was clearing out her art stuff and had brought round photographs and the script for me. The piece was performed for Holocaust Memorial Day 2008, the day that this year saw Trump impose his immigration ban. The last section of the piece reads like yesterday’s newspaper. It ends with the admonition ‘Watch your step!’ I’ll find an electronic version and share some of it with you next time.

My reading week

I have just finished reading Angela Carter’s Wise Children (1991) to discuss at the reading group this week. I didn’t enjoy as much as the others did as it seemed to me dated and overdone, although here is some very wonderful writing to be enjoyed. I’m not recommending it because to be honest it is not my taste.

I have just started on Alan Bennett’s Kkeeping On Keeping On, a work full of sharp political comment and theatre gossip, lovely!

Hare in the Headlights

Just a few plugs for forthcoming literary and poetic events:

March 9th is an April Poets here in Lancaster (yes, I know it’s March but it’s a long story) there is a workshop with David Tait and a reading with David, Jenny Copley and Carola Luther in the evening at the Storey Institute, Lancaster. Visit April Poets for more information.

Then there is the Lancaster Litfest with lots of treats, Jackie Kay a poetry day and much more

And last but not least all of us at Brewery Poets are waiting for news of our bid to the Arts Council for the next Kendal Poetry Festival. We will hear this coming Tuesday and if successful the festival will be in June.

That’s it for now.