Amsterdam and all that jazz

After finishing for the summer break at school, I’ve just spent a few days in Amsterdam. We were staying at the Prinz Hendrik Hotel, just across the square from Amsterdam Central Station. The time was spent visiting museums, eating out and wondering what the strange smell was that pervaded most areas outside coffee houses, restaurants and other open spaces … Ams6

For me, one of the most interesting places was the van Gogh museum; I’d never realised before how much poetry there is behind his art work. His correspondence with his brother Theo is particularly poignant, as he wrote descriptively about his needs and ambition. One quote in particular from the museum’s publication Face To Face With Vincent van Gogh struck a chord: ‘… my plan for my life is to make paintings and drawings, as many and as well as I can – then, when my life is over, I hope to depart in no other way than looking back with love and wistfulness and thinking, oh paintings that I would have made!’

Ams3Similarly, at the Rijksmuseum, the wonderful work of Vermeer has some quality that fascinates and makes me reach for pen and paper. Good job that there will be plenty of time to indulge myself over the next few weeks … speaking of which:

I’ve finished and sent off a poem (via snail mail) for the inaugural poetry competition of a local poetry group. The theme of the poem, which I won’t reveal just yet, felt so right that I’ve adapted and developed it as a children’s short story as well, which I’ve now just completed (1500 words) and which I’m polishing for a short story competition (deadline September 30th). Reading this information back, I feel like some recycling zealot or tight-arse writer who can’t be bothered to explore a wider range of ideas and topics. Perhaps this is the case. To be honest, the theme of both poem and story is one I’ve not tackled before and is, in my opinion, so important, that success with it in either genre would mean I could ride out the name calling quite gladly.

There’s other news as well: I had a brilliant time at Verbalise this weekend, listening to and watching my favourite spoken word performer Rowland Crowland (aka Chris Nortley). natterjack4He is, without doubt, a force of nature and should, if there is any justice in the poetry world, get a wider exposure than he does at the moment. Also, tomorrow at Kendal Library, I have the honour of helping Hannah Hodgson judge a range of work from young poets in the area, as well as the opportunity to do a twenty minute set of my own stuff (which I must now get down to sorting out …).

Cheers

JH 🙂

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