Highlights Of The Week – “We’ll have no Teflon Poetry” said Frieda

Monday to Friday from 10am until 8pm at The Riverside Rooms,  home of the Southbank
centres artists in residence.  I have  been in this residency for a year now, it continues indefinitely. You could  see the development of an artists career   through the work they turn down rather than the work they take on.  It’s been a very productive week.    

On  Monday I met with Book Trust,  Marian Keen Downs and Barrister Ivor Frank to discuss The Letterbox Club and the future launch when The Letterbox Club goes public after a two year pilot. On Tuesday I met at  Forward the publishers on Regent St in Piccadilly, it’s roasting, with Alan Brownjohn (publisher) , Natalie Whittle  (financial Times)  Freida Hughes (poet)  and Fleur Adcock (poet)  to judge The Forward Competition. It was a pleasure to be there amongst them  and through no fault but my own I  felt torturously inadequate.  “We’ll have no Teflon poetry” threw  Freida Hughes. And that is as much as I can say cause the rest is confidential. 

I left  for the first interview on my new book Listener which I hope to god is never put forward for a Forward prize.  I’m an hour late  for the interview with The London Magazine and while we sit outside The Riverside Rooms as the thames slides past a woman
faints onto the hard concrete of the south bank.  We call   security, this takes up another hour.    We decide to possibly reschedule the interview.  Wednesday is the  birthday party for Becky Shaw,  Jude kelly’s right hand woman.  Thursday   is  taken up with meetings and   administration.

But it’s   today Friday that’s the highlight of my week.  I visit  Centrepoints shelter for the
young and homeless in Vauxhall. I am introduced to a few young talented artists in the
centre and I am moved by the stories I hear from people who have suffered as a result of their circumstances and  through  no fault of their own.  I have worked   with centrepoint before but this is about sitting and listening.  And though I was only there for an hour and a half I am proud that they allowed me to view their work and I listened to some incredible individuals. I came away   inspired by them all, by their photographs and artworks and poems.   “I do it because I love it” says a young    tall black man.   “It’s like, I can’t not
do it – it makes me happy”. 

These young   homeless people are living  in the shadow of the south bank yet most of them   have never visited.  How can I get  them to the south bank?  How can I get them to meet other artists of their age?   How can I get them to contact and connect? How can I at least provide what may be a fleeting and what could be a lasting impression of contact with the arts industry.     I promise that I will introduce them and their artwork to The South Bank in some way.   But definitely I want them all to come and see   the show by the artistic director of the entire complex.  The show released over the next week is The Wizard of Oz.  If I can’t get free   tickets I’ll pay for them myself, because amongst the whirlwinds and the storms   of their youthful lives there’s no place.     There’s no place Like Home… Theres no place like home…. .

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