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20 Jul 2011

Mark Grist - Poet in residence Blog 9 - July 2011

Whew, hello again. It’s been a busy old time. This has actually been the first day off I’ve had in four weeks. Admittedly, most working days involve spending 4 hours playing computer games on the train, then reading some poems and going down the pub, but doing it every day can be kind of exhausting.
Please don’t look at me like that...
As I write this, I’m on my way back to Peterborough to perform Shetland Boy for the first time. The rumbling of the carriage matches my own panicked shivering I’m absolutely terrified, truth be told. The show contains 12 new poems (which have never been performed before) and a whole host of visual media that I’m very nervous about using. I’ve been working solidly and I’ve not really had the chance to finalise a couple of links between poems.
That said, the work I’ve been doing has been some of the most rewarding work of the year. I’ve been work shopping with Primary School students at Canons Ashby (a stately manor on the edge of Northampton). Laura at the trust has been incredible. She’s taught me so much about the site and has really enthused me throughout the project, whilst also making me a packed lunch and being very tolerant of my poorly ironed shirts. It’s been a real laugh working with her and the schools have also been great to go into.
We had quite a surreal (and fantastic!) moment halfway through the project. One of the primary school pupils was an elective mute and hadn’t spoken for some years. I still don’t know what prompted it, but he spoke during the day, which was quite overwhelming - once Laura and I actually realised how big a deal it was! Word got around in the local area, and I was viewed as some kind of ‘child-whisperer’ as a result. It’s also led me on to some exciting new work in October, working in churches around Northampton whilst hopefully not being expected to perform any miracles. When you tie that in with an Arts Council funded tour of Peterborough schools in September and a scriptwriting workshop tour with Eastern Angles Theatre, you’ve got a pretty busy autumn, thank goodness! Looks like I’ll be able to replace my broken sofa after all.
Anyway, the train is coming to a halt and I’m off to the Key Theatre. I’ll be back soon with a blog about Shetland Boy. Time to see how it goes!

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