Zoom may have been a godsend to performance poets over the past eighteen months as our normal venues shut their doors because of the pandemic, but nothing – and I mean nothing – beats a real live gig. And it was an absolute joy to be part of last night’s poetry event at the Ironbridge Festival of the Imagination, to sit and listen to the work of fellow pandemonialists Dave Pitt and Emma Purshouse, and last year’s slam winner Hannah Brockley, all of whom were simply outstanding. To hear applause and laughter. To chat with strangers, and catch up with familiar faces. To get up behind the mic myself, and be reminded just how much I love that interaction with an audience, the shared experience which is such a vital and wonderful part of being human. To be outdoors among friends under a clear autumn sky – socially distanced, because we’ve still a way to go on this journey back to normal – on a night alive with the sound of owls hooting in the surrounding woodland. To sell books again. To drive back to Wolverhampton with Dave and Emma, still buzzing, all of us talking nineteen to the dozen about what it means to be back on a stage once more. To wake up this morning and want to do it all again, as soon as possible.
Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve been missing till it slips back into your life and makes everything brighter. Welcome back, live gigs. I’ve really, really missed you.