Monday, 25 May 2015

Bardic Diary: 19th - 24th May

So. Last Tuesday I finally managed that thing I've been trying for six years, and became the 'Bard of Glastonbury'. Or, to use my formal title, the 10th Chaired Bard of Ynys Witrin. I am greatly honoured and also excited to have attained this title in the town where I have lived since I was born (and where my ancestors have lived for at least hundreds of years); let alone in a place with such a rich and important place in history.

I mean to publish an ongoing diary of my time as the Bard, here on my writing blog. If you'd like to follow updates, please subscribe to the blog (I think that 'Google Friend Connect' button, top right, will do it).

Tuesday May 19th
The night I won - here's the piece I won with. My fourth attempt. I'm glad I didn't get it on the first go. I've learned more, and there are more people around to help me. Lisa Ceneri aka 'Raw Poet' took the crown - I hadn't met Lisa before the trials but I've already been impressed by her prolific energy. Richard Field claimed the Fool's prize again with typical flare; and to my great pleasure, my colleague and friend Steve Leighton was awarded the Tim Sebastian Memorial Trophy - "for elevation of the word". It was an extraordinary night for our gathering as Denise Michell, one of the instigators of the Bardic Chair and indeed the maker of the robes I have for the next year and a day, was inaugurated as Mayor of Glastonbury at the same time as our contest was taking place. I am quite sure, when other details of the night have faded from memory, that I will recall the brand new Mayor standing in front of me in her shining chains, holding the lapels of the garment new on me, and saying, "I made these robes!"

Wednesday May 20th
"Venus, as she nearly always was, was the first to appear..." - that was the first line of my winning piece. Now my first day as Bard and a beautiful synchronicity that only occurred to me after the event. My friends Hannah and James - of the band Venus Bogardus - are back in the UK for a couple of weeks, in Bath, and I've arranged to meet them for lunch. So my first appointment after being appointed is a trip to that other Bardic seat to see Venus!

Venus Bogardus aren't just any band, either. Their music is packed full of references to literature and other artists - they used to run an independent bookshop in Bath - James has written what I consider to be one of the finest works of visionary fiction I've ever read, ('I, Judas') - they're even named after a character in a cult novel. All in all a fine pair to break bread with. I urge everyone to get to know them:


In the evening, back in Glastonbury, I meet with my monthly 'Dreaming Group'. We get together once a month and talk about dream experiences. The one I share this time is from before the Bardic trials: I'm with my wife, Erica; we're looking for a new project, we step outside and there are great stone buildings in the sky behind the Tor! Later in the dream, a stone girl emerges carrying a stone scroll with both hands. She is walking determinedly and is clearly on a mission. She takes my hand and I hear her voice in my head - "Your Highness?" - I wake up, protesting in my mind that I am nobody's Highness. As always, things about the dream become obvious in the discussion that had not occurred to me before. A gravestone with the name 'JARWOOD' on it has to be a failed application I made to the Jerwood Foundation over 10 years ago.

One of our number has had a dream that, in discussion, suggests to her it could be time to get out and perform her own work more. I encourage her to consider the Bardic contest next year - but also not to wait that long!

Thursday May 21st
Working in the Library, and out on my lunchbreak, I get a few 'Hail the Bard's for the first time. It will probably take me all year to get used to responding to it. I've decided the correct response is simply 'Hail'...

Friday May 22nd
I've spoken to my Library manager, Iain, and got agreement that I can bring the Chair in to be put on prominent display there - brilliant! Steve is going to bring the Tim Sebastian Memorial Trophy too. I'm going to put out a call for initiates in the Bardic College to bring in work to go up on display around the Chair - more on this soon.

Saturday May 23rd
I wake early in the morning and text Erica. I've been having a read of the 'Brown Book' - a beautiful, leatherbound book that only the Chaired Bard may write in (and, I think maybe, that only the Chaired Bard may read? Or am I allowed to share its contents with others if I choose?). A highly covetable artefact to be sure. EV texts me back to write something in it. I spend a few minutes meditating on what would be right to put in there, and settle on my version of 'Pip's Poem for the Fiend' - I put it quite near the front, on one of the many blank left-hand pages. What an extraordinary boon this book is and what consideration it shows was put into the institution of the Chair. I surprise myself with how comfortable I feel writing in it. Not a pretender. I wonder if I'd truly have felt that way if I'd won through in 2009 when I first tried.

Sunday May 24th
Another first - the first chance to put on my robes since winning them!


























This is to read at my sister's wedding anniversary. I read them (Hollie and Pete) a poem written specially for the occasion. The context? They were together for 12 years before they got married, and both have Geology degrees:

Rocks
for Pete and Hollie



Before we came here and drank and laughed
and danced and ate,
and wore hats and shared your joy,
together;


your love already had a timescale
some might call geological.
Between your meeting and your marriage,
islands appeared in Tonga, and Russia,
and Yemen and Japan
and Pakistan.


While you were courting,
an oak tree grew from an acorn...
until it was taller than both of you...
put together.


While you were courting
the sea level rose
by over an inch.
Millions died.
Millions were born.
While you were courting.

The Solar System was redefined
while you were courting.
All three parts of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy
were scripted, cast, filmed, screened in theatres
released on DVD
then sold again in second hand shops
while you were courting.

Your love already lasted aeons.
May aeons more follow, in love. - I also set up a new Facebook page for the Chair. Along with the Twitter feed (and the Chair, and the Robes, and the Branch, and the Book...), it's to be passed down from me to the next Bard, and so on, down the years (or at least until Facebook and Twitter go the way of all things). Follow them, anyway, for updates! /|\

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