Friday morning at 6:15am I was rubbing sleep out my eyes and walking up High Street to the train station. After some unsuccessful attempts to withdraw money from a hole-in-the-wall (apparently £50 at 6am registers as suspicious for someone who usually only gets up to £20, and usually around 7pm) I got the London Paddington Train for 6:29. Or so I thought. Apparently that one left early, so I sat, half-awake, on a still train until 6:59.
I did a bit of editing on Ambition is Critical and then slept most of the way between Bridgend and Reading.
Ultimately, I made my way via tube to the Southbank Centre. I was a bit concerned about finding it in time, but luckily for me, most things with names like "The Royal Festival Hall" have huge-ass signs on the side of their buildings. This was no exception. As I was walking through the door to Function Room 3 I got a call from Lucy, the organiser asking if I'd made it okay. Movie-style timing.
I was there for the Pilot Meeting of the Global Poetry System. What is that? That's what I was there to find out. Long and short of it-- it'll be a web-based interactive poetry project. Sort of like Google Maps but with poetry. Perhaps a bit of Wiki thrown in. So, say you scroll over Swansea on the map and there are balloons that pop up with links to found poetry, videos of events, reader's musings on historical Swansea Poets. For example.
The project is very open ended and the brainchild of Southbank Centre Artist in Residence Lemn Sissay, who was incredibly warm and more than that, was able to talk about Poetry as a Vastly Important Part of Daily and Spiritual Life without sounding like a Big Fucking Hippie.
Which is very hard to do.
The enthusiasm was infectious and though the rest of the day was largely brainstorming with the other Project Partners from all over the UK, it felt just as much like some sort of odd mini-summercamp. The project is very adaptable; I feel it'll be important for Swansea to emphasize new events and generating new material; the guy from Abergavenny is planning his end around one particular poet of local renown, one of the Edinburgh ladies is specifically interested in upping visitorship and readership of libraries, Will from London is looking towards youth work and performance.
So what the Global Poetry System is will obviously evolve with time; but I find it exciting to be working with such a variety of people who are also excited about words and also excited about their own communities. It's huge.
Afters I checked out the Saison Poetry Library and I was supposed to meet Will (london) and Ryan (Scotland via Connecticut) at the bar at the British Film Institute, but I had to hit up a bank first. When I got back they weren't there; either they'd each shown up on their own when the others weren't there, thought "fuck it" and left (entirely possible) or I'd found the wrong British Film Institute bar (also possible.) As was, I sat outside drinking a pint of a cornish ale called Doombar (it was pretty good) and watched the Thames.
It was good. The part about not getting to meet up with anyone in London ended up okay; I caught the train back and read the first fifty pages of Infinite Jest, showed up at Rhod and Guppy's where the whole crew was watching a pirated version of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
It was alright.