Wednesday, October 29, 2014

McGregor Poetry Festival

This last Weekend I attended the second McGregor Poetry Festival. I loved it. The weather was good,the scenery spectacular, the events exciting, the food delicious and the company delightful. Hugh, Julia and I drove up to McGregor together I had been invited last year, but this was a first for Hugh and Julia. Graham Dukas, Kerry Hammerton and I from Finuala's Workshop as well as Finuala herself and her daughter Beatie, had been invited to read and Hugh was to run an Off-the-Wall type open-mic event. All of us, I am sure, as well as the others from Finuala's class who came to support us, thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. I felt that my presentation went down well especially on the Friday night(I read during two dinners at a guesthouse or what I suppose is called a boutique hotel) Hugh's event proved very popular.There were so many eager wanna-be poets that there was time for only one poem per person. All the poems I heard were interesting and some were very good. My only personal gripe about the festival is that there are just too many events. It was difficult to choose. I don't know which I would have eliminated. Originally I would have thought that perhaps there were too many locals taking part, but I enjoyed the local events I went to and of course these are just the ones that are be sure to be well attended. I went to two events where two poets shared the floor. Perhaps this is the answer. An hour is a long time for one person to be talking. It works very well to have two (or even more) poets sharing a slot if they have something in common or when the style of one complements that of the other. Graham and Finuala, for instance, combined well. The open mic sessions on the other hand could be longer. It is aspirant writers who attend Literary festivals after all.

Getting to McGregor

"Let's take my car, " I said. "It's more reliable." These words would come back to haunt me. My little Hyundai looks new and is in fact only two years old. In its short life it has given no trouble whatsoever. I had checked the tyres and fitted a new one and had filled up with petrol. I was quite sure that would be enough in the way of preparation. I was wrong! We set off, Hugh,Julia and I on Friday morning. The departure was slightly delayed by the loss of Hugh's wallet. He had it with him at a restaurant the night before, but that morning it was nowhere to be found. Hugh and JUlia arrived at Evergreen Muizenberg stressed and shaky from anxiety and loss of sleep. My dog-sitter, the ever-reliable Carline had already arrived so we could get going without delay. Without delay did I say? Not really. Gairo my part-time domestic worker had first to be persuaded to leave some of the clothes unironed and get into my car so she could be dropped off at Lavender Hill and this took quite a few minutes, as she was not keen on having her routine interfered with. And then, before we could leave Cape Town itself, we also had to make a detour to Green Point to leave Julia's car with her daughter Jessica. That was not all. Just as we were about to leave, there was a phone call from my grandson to ask me to pay his gardener because he wouldn't be able to get home in time to do so. So we had to make another detour, this time via Diep Rivier We drove in convoy to Luke's house and got there without mishap. Then with Julia in my car to help with directions and give moral support, we were soon cruising down the M3 towards Green Point. Somehow in concentrating on following Hugh in the car ahead, I managed more than once to get into the wrong lane. much cursing and hooting ensuing. However this caused only minor uneasiness, no serious road rage or arrests for traffic violations. After leaving the other car, Hugh took over the driving, much to our relief, and we sailed out of the CBD and onto the N1. Here we met with incredible delays. We crawled all the way to Belville. It seemed to take hours. We were convinced that there had been an accident, but the hold-up was due to nothing but minor roadworks. Perhaps it was this long slow period in low gear that exasperated the battery and made it collapse. Who knows? After that everything seemed to be going swimmingly.The engine purred, the weather was perfect and Du toit's Kloof was as stunningly beautiful as ever. And so to Worcester. there we stopped to buy a burger, which only took a few minutes. We got back to the car to find that in the interim, it had died. The battery was totally flat. There was no garage nearby, but we found a dilapidated taxi, which from its appearance, seemed to have been involved in all the recent taxi wars. The driver, together with four friends, came to our rescue with a pair of jumper leads and the car sprang to life again. By a wonderful stroke of providence, Julia had a brother in Worcester who owned a firm that sold car parts. He examined the car, got it going again and tested the battery which he pronounced healthy. "It should be charged by the time you get to McGregor," he said. Well, we did get to McGregor, but the battery was still flat. I wasn't going to let its moribund state spoil my weekend so I cadged lifts and walked throughout the weekend and after a good deal of devout prayer, we left on Sunday afternoon, determined to keep the engine running and not to stop until we reached Cape Town. And that is what we did. We reached Disa Towers, where we could find both Julia's daughter and her car. By this time the battery of my car was so flat that the headlights wouldn't come on, so we left the poor little Hyundai and went home in the other car. The AA fetched it later on and took it to the agents and now it is well again. PS. Hugh's wallet was found at the bottom of a backpack.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Writing Stories

In the last year or so I have concentrated so much on poetry and this has paid off,I suppose. I have certainly been more successful as a poet than as a short story writer. Besides having published two collections, I have been published in Carapace quite often. I didn't realise what an accomplishment that was until I read in the latest Carapace that the editorial staff receive as many as 80 to 100 poems every two months. But I was given a short story to write for my U3A group homework and this has been a lot of fun. I must do it more often. It is being without an audience or rather a readership for short stories that puts me off. My grandchildren used to read my children's stories, but are now too old for them. At one time I went every week to Paul Mason's writing group, where we did a lot of story-writing.I miss the weekly sessions with Paul and the "girls" I see that the last post on this blog was about the trip to the West Coast Park. This trip was most fruitful as far as writing was concerned. Out of it has come a poem and a short story as well as the post on the blog. Appropos of the trip, I was amazed to read in the last Rescom minutes that one of the residents who went on the trip complained that there were no flowers to be seen. It is true that we have seen more fields of daisies on a previous trips, but I can only think that the poor old thing's eyesight must be really failing. No flowers? My collection of photographs tells otherwise.