I spent yesterday sititng on a sofa halfway up Whitchurch High Street while the cavalcade of wonder and nonsense that is the town’s annual Blackberry Fair swirled around me. Cider stalls, cider drinkers, morris dancers, buskers, food stalls, musicians, and more. I was there (with fellow pandemonialist Emma Purshouse) to offer poetry on demand to the great, the less great, the old, the young, the good, bad, irreverent, half-cut, and mildly curious. To anyone, in short, who fancied having a poem written by someone they’d never met, on any subject they cared to mention, and which would be available for collection in fifteen minutes.
Now, poetry on demand isn’t for everyone. I know poets who love it (step forward, all three pandemonialists) and others for whom the very idea is akin to the ninth circle of hell. Each to their own. For me, getting paid to write poems for whoever decides they want one is about as near to a perfect day as it’s possible to get. I’m a poetry pig in the proverbial. One minute I’m writing a swashbuckling poem for the crew of a pirate airship who plunder the clouds for lightning (it’s a long story), the next I’m carefully putting together a piece for a woman who’s keenly feeling the loss of her mother but can’t let herself grieve, then one for a six-year-old lad feasting on marshmallow kebabs, and soon after that I’m asked for a poem about the fair itself, in the style of a piece by John Cooper Clarke. Dull, it ain’t. Full on, it most certainly is. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.