Arvon, then: Jesus. I’d heard it being described as an intense experience before I left, but it was only immediately after leaving on the Saturday morning, standing at Craven Arms station, hangover the size of Shropshire, that I felt the full weight of that intensity.
This was poetry Big Brother: sixteen people – sixteen poets and all the baggage that implies – turning up to an isolated house, sharing cooking and cleaning duties, occasionally reporting alone to the diary room to confess their poor use of line breaks and rant about the evasive poetic muse.
And drinking lots of wine. Which inevitably exacerbated the animalistic development of inter-relationships and snide remarks. By Friday morning I was so Big-Brothered, a walk to the heady heights of Clun (a town which is really a village which is really two pubs, a Costcutter, a river and a butchers) was a welcome change.
I’m not complaining (about Clun, or the course for that matter). I got to be edited by Christopher Reid; I got to have Clare Pollard tell me precisely why one poem I’ve struggled with for nearly two years isn’t working; I got to meet a bunch of interesting people and talk about Bloodaxe, caesura and inter-domain metaphor in ways that didn’t involve them hastily making for the door.
In short, it was a bloody interesting and immensely useful week.
But now, if I hear the term scansion or the name Don Patterson one more time, I will be the one leaving the room. I also need to avoid wine till the Great North Run has passed. Damn poets, topping up my head with great ideas, my glass with sweet, sweet alcohol.