The poet is the priest of the invisible.” — Wallace Stevens, from Opus Posthumous.
As some readers know I suffer from bouts of depression which drive me away from the keyboard for indeterminate periods and which produce a web presence, or not as the case may be, that resembles the blogosphere equivalent of an abandoned and weed infested allotment. I’ve been struggling with this particular bout for over a year now triggered by the decline of Plottdog‘s health and the sudden realisation that this constant companion who has given me so much, but not least a reason to get up on so many dark days when I felt I had no other reason, will soon be gone. He’s in his dotage and grappling with both arthritis and a heart condition. I don’t think we have long left and I’ll admit I have been wallowing in my sadness instead of embracing every day we have left as a blessing.
I resolve to do better in this respect if I can.
With that in mind, I’ve just spent three revitalising days at the 2016 Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival – #Hot Air 2016 (which incidentally just gets better every year) and have returned to the keyboard enthused and motivated.
One of the encounters I had at the Festival was with the Emergency Poet, Deborah Alma and I have to say, for me this was one of the standout moments of this year’s event. I met Deborah a while back through Writing West Midlands Room 204 programme but had never had the opportunity to have a consultation so I wasn’t going to let this one pass.
Assisted by Nurse Verse or the Peomedic, Deborah, incidentally the world’s first and only emergency poet, travels the country in her fantastic vintage ambulance visiting literary and music festivals, libraries, schools, pubs, weddings and conferences, and as she says on her website, https://emergencypoet.com/ anywhere where poetic help may be urgently required.
I thoroughly enjoyed my consultation and left with a smile on my face and a spring in my step, but best of all, poetic medication in the form of The Door by Miroslav Holub (1923-1998) Trans. Ian Milner, and Variation on a Theme by Rilke by Denise Levertov from Breathing the Water (Bloodaxe Books, 1988). Such was the accuracy of Deborah’s assessment of my condition that in the resonance of both these poems I could completely understand exactly what Dylan Thomas spoke about when he said:
Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.
A Few Words of a Kind – Massachusetts Institute of Technology ~ 7th March, 1952.
I have been taking my medication daily and am loving it! If you get the opportunity to visit the Emergency Poet, I urge you to do so and if you can’t then I can thoroughly recommend The Emergency Poet: An Anti-Stress Poetry Anthology by Deborah Alma (Michael O’Mara Books) and available via Amazon. I have checked and it is possible to obtain copies via Amazon US, Canada & India – unfortunately I couldn’t locate in on the Australian site.
Huge thanks to Deborah, Nurse Verse and the Poemedic and of course to Stoke on Trent Literary Festival for another knock-out event.