No matter how much prose I write, I always return to poetry. I'm always drawn into the musicality of a poem, the sounds of its words and the rhythm.
My father was a fan of jazz and a schoolfriend’s father was the drummer of a band. The gig was at the Old Duke on Bristol’s docks, opposite the Llandogger Trow pub. The poem is more atmospheric than the actual gig. There was a female vocalist, though with subtler make-up than the poem suggests. I used poetic license, thinking of how The Viper Room in Los Angeles allegedly got its name from the glazed and drooping eyes of musicians after a lengthy playing session (probably assisted by illicit substances). Performers and audiences alike have to come down after a great gig; a chill descends when the audience drifts home. Bristol’s harbour literally floats. Engineers dug a series of tunnels under the city centre to combat low tides and enable Bristol to flourish as a port.
The poem is written in free verse: jazz is never formal. The poem's title 'Torchlit' refers to the song she’s singing rather than to the spotlight itself. The tapering of the fourth stanza visually represents the spotlight, placing the rest of the band in shadow and focusing on the vocalist. The poem's shape also reflects the sense of loneliness after the gig.
I moved to Leicester at the age of eighteen. It didn’t take me long to find the students' unions and the Princess Charlotte. Leicester is a good place to discover new bands. Its (then) smaller venues and proximity to the motorways meant university circuit bands usually played in Leicester. I began reviewing for a local music magazine and also found I could send reviews to American magazines, which was a useful way of getting news and music from some of my favourite bands.
I have always written. As a young child I used to invent stories using bricks and toy cars to create villages, which I'd populate with imaginary characters and situations. Stories became poems. Moving to Leicester coincided with a bolder approach to my work. I started submitting my poems to editors. It wasn’t long before I was enjoying the thrill of brilliant gigs and of recognition as poems started getting accepted. Marriage and the logistics of babysitting and car-parking mean the gigs have dried up and my MP3 player is now a constant companion. But my poems have outlasted motherhood and are still getting accepted. I still enjoy the buzz of performing and practising the art of trying on someone else’s skin.