Celebrating National Poetry Day at Chateau Ventenac

Listed on October 3, 2013 in Blogs!

A guest blog by poet & tutor in residence Jo Bell

Well, this is not at all what I’m used to. I know canals, of course. I live on one, in the English Midlands. A canal is a little brown thing with narrowboats on it, in a small rainy country. Isn’t it?

Not this week. This week, I’m at Chateau Ventenac, working with a group of poets from the UK and Australia. This week, a canal is a great majestic waterway, lined with plane trees and heavy with Mediterranean heat. Seen from the patio where we do our writing exercises, the Canal du Midi is a lazy backdrop, the bottom frame to a picture which also includes vineyards, red tile roofs and the graceful wind turbines which stand on the high ridges.

We will finish our course today, Thursday 3rd October. It’s National Poetry Day in the UK and the theme this year, fittingly, is Water. The country will be humming like a hive with poetry activities, and as the canal laureate for the UK this year, part of me is itching to be at the Southbank Centre where the nation’s best poets will be reading work on that watery theme. But here at Ventenac we will be celebrating the creation of new work, on all sorts of subjects – from shame to seduction, from Leonard Cohen to Emily Dickinson and, of course, on the Canal du Midi.

One of the greatest pleasures has been the sight of so many lovely boats including an immense barge, currently sitting at the foot of the hill below us. I’ll be heading back to my own canal at the weekend – smaller, narrower and much further north – but this one has been a great discovery. It’s not quite sea-faring country, but here is a filmpoem made by Alastair Cook of my Shipwright’s Love Song – enjoy it and raise a glass of Minervois to water, and to poetry!

Jo Bell

Filmpoem 34/ The Shipwright’s Love Song from Alastair Cook on Vimeo.