26 Jul 2011

My follow up meeting with Ian McMillan and the BBC crew

The first meeting for Verb New Voices took place in London (see post May 4th) where we agreed that our next meeting would take place in the Midlands, so today we all met at the Midland’s Art Centre (mac) in Birmingham. Ian McMillan (Presenter), Erin Riley (Producer), and Deborah Cohen (Producer) joked about how posh the coffee and tea dispensers were, noticing that they actually had the word ‘coffee’ and ‘tea’ engraved on them and playfully insinuated that they didn’t have that luxury in their London BBC headquarter (Birmingham 1, London Nil so far!) or perhaps here in the Midlands we like to know what we’re getting rather than be surprised by the outcome..
Oh Dear! Its coffee and I really wanted tea... (sulk)! How many times a day can you regret your caffeine fix?!

Today’s meeting was very interesting as all of us poets brought substantial parts of our work which we - over the past two months – developed in conjunction with our mentors, we also took turns talking about our experiences with our mentors, how they helped shift our interest, push us out of our comfort zone, spoon out inspiration, tackle sticky bits we struggled with and make all those ‘Oh so painful’ corrections to our drafts.

As poets, we’re all very different from each other and so it was refreshing to hear the different voices, the different ideas, and the different ways we chose to approach the ideas behind our poems, Michael Edwards is such a charismatic performer with an amazing ability to slip in and out of character, Degna Stone’s poems are enchanting and she has a voice that can make you melt, I’m convinced that Bohdan Piasecki has a metaphor making machine in his basement, he’s such a gifted writer and can truly capture an image, not to mention his gorgeous accent. Deborah Stevenson’s voice is as powerful as her personality, she’s like a raging ocean and is so passionate about what she writes and John Osborn is such a surprise, he has an understated wisdom and unbeatable wit which he incorporates so well in his poems.

I, on the other hand, had the word vagina in my poem and Oh, the shame! of having to say the word vagina in front of all the men! Or indeed in front of all the women! While reading my poem I could sense I was getting closer and closer to the dreaded word, my mind constantly sending my brain messages: “Are you sure you want to say vagina, do you seriously want to embarrass yourself like this? What if your nerves get the best of you and you mispronounce it?”
My brain responding: “Shut-Up! There’s no point obsessing on the darn word now! We’re almost there, what are you going to replace it with anyway?”
My mind: “What about fourty-niner, or eyeliner? Try it, maybe they won’t notice!”
I finally said it and got it over with, but the vagina horror didn’t end there, after we all read our pieces, we had to split into groups and each group had to write comments and feedback on each and every poet, guess what I got?
‘Was the word vagina really necessary?’ and from the other group ‘You could’ve done without vagina!’ [insert piano falling on cartoon character - scene - here].

All vaginas aside, the meeting was very productive and I’m looking forward to future meetings and progress with Verb New Voices and as always, I will keep you posted.

Fatima x