Sunday Poem – Martin Zarrop

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Evening all.  Those of you that are friends with me on Facebook will know I’ve had a rather strange week, filled with missing trumpets and forgetfulness and general confusion.  I am not the world’s most organised person in general, but I normally bump along in my own unique way with not too many disasters befalling me.  However, this week, I have excelled myself in my levels of complete confusion.  When I look back, it probably started with a horrible start to the week, which I can’t write about because it wouldn’t be professional, but I went to bed on Monday evening feeling fairly upset.

Tuesday was a better day – I had two new pupils turn up to Brasstastic, the junior band I run for primary school pupils and teaching went along without anything to get excited or upset about.  In the evening I had rehearsal with the Soul Survivors and I got a lift home with Julie, the sax player.  In the car park in rehearsal, Julie was messing about, driving the car forward every time I tried to open the door and in the end I jumped in the front with my trumpet, music stand and bag with music piled on my knee.  I am telling you this to emphasise that I remembered distinctly jumping in the car with all my stuff on my knee.

When I got to the house I walked inside and put all my stuff down in the middle room, my writing room.  On Thursday I was due to go to quintet rehearsal in the evening.  When I went to get my trumpet, it wasn’t in its usual place.  I looked in the car – it wasn’t there.  I immediately went into complete panic – my lift was waiting outside to go to rehearsal.  I had to go and tell them I couldn’t find my trumpet, which sounded ridiculous.  I turned the house upside down looking for it and began frantically ringing Julie to see if I’d left it in the car, even though I knew I hadn’t, because I remembered piling it all on my knee, and I even remembered dumping it in the dining room.  It was like it had vanished into thin air.

Thursday is my day off teaching and I’d got quite a lot of work done at home.  I’d been upstairs working for quite a bit of it but the back door had been open so the dogs could run in and out of the garden. I began to convince myself that someone had been in the house, while I was upstairs and stolen my trumpet.  It didn’t matter how much Chris pointed out to me that this seemed unlikely as nothing else was missing, and how would a thief know how much the trumpet was worth?  I was in the midst of a complete meltdown and wasn’t stopping to think.  Chris and I went and knocked on the neighbours doors to see if they’d seen anything, which they hadn’t.  My dad still pays the insurance policy for my trumpet so I rang him to tell him to ring the insurers.  I tried to ring the police who said they didn’t take lost property reports anymore – it didn’t help that I didn’t know if it had been lost or stolen.  Chris was convinced I’d put it down in the street and just walked off because I had my hands full of stuff, but I knew I hadn’t.  I knew I’d walked in the house with it.

Anyway, turns out I was right.  I had walked in the house with it on Tuesday.  However there had been a whole day (Wednesday) between Tuesday and Thursday which I’d somehow managed to forget about.  On Wednesday I’d taken my trumpet into school to play but hadn’t remembered doing it.  It was like Wednesday had just vanished from my mind.  On Wednesday I’d been to work, taught a private pupil after school and then done a 2 hour live chat as part of my Poetry School course.  I hadn’t remembered any of it.  Once I realised that Wednesday did in fact exist, I retraced my steps back and found my trumpet in a cupboard at one of my schools.

I’d wasted the whole of Friday, which was the one day off with nothing to do that I’d had in ages on the phone to the insurers, on the phone to my dad, on the phone to the police.  It was a truly horrible day, and finding the trumpet, while it was a relief didn’t really feel that good because I then started to berate myself for being such an idiot.  I then had to ring the insurer and my dad and the police again and tell them I’d found it.  I had to post on Facebook and tell everyone I’d been a complete numpty.

In my defence, a new trumpet of the same model would cost about £2,200.  I’ve lived with it for 14 years.  I would say the first seven of those years – from the age of 18 to 24 I would have played it every day for three or four hours.  The bag the trumpet is in is an old leather gig bag, given to me by my old trumpet teacher.  So yes, I went into a complete panic, a meltdown.

There have been some good things that have happened this week though, despite all of that going on.  I’ve got a poem in the Best British Poetry Anthology, edited by Emily Berry and Roddy Lumsden which cheered me up.  The poem is called ‘The Knowing’ and it was first published in Poem.  It’s another poem from the sequence about domestic violence, which makes me very happy, because those poems mean a lot to me.

I haven’t been running very much this week – Chris and I went out on Tuesday and I got a really horrible pain in my right buttock (don’t laugh) and had to hobble back home.  By the next day the pain had disappeared, but I was too paranoid to run all week.  I went spinning on Friday and then had a little jog around the park and it seemed ok so today I went and did the Holker Hall 10k.  My aim was to get around the course without developing a pain in my butt.  I had a bad night’s sleep last night though, I woke up convinced I was going to be sick and feeling really hot.  After lying down very dramatically on the bathroom floor to cool down and then taking the bin back to bed just in case, I eventually fell asleep, but I didn’t really feel great this morning.

I told myself I would just jog around the course, use it as a training run.  Of course that never happens, and I did push myself round in 48:43 which is my second fastest time, but still a minute off my PB, but considering the week I’ve had and the disturbed night, I was pretty pleased with that and no aches and pains apart from the usual ones that come from running and getting out of breath.

I was fourth woman back which I was busy sulking about until I realised I was part of the winning women’s team so that made up for it a bit.

So that is my week – a bit of a tale of woe I’m afraid.  One other exciting thing that has happened is that something I’ve been plotting for a long time has finally come to fruition.  I’ll be one of four tutors running a Poetry Workshop Carousel weekend December 11th-13th at Abbot Hall, Grange over Sands.  Everyone booked on the course will attend a small group workshop with each tutor for two hours.  In the evenings the groups will come together for readings from invited guest poets and tutors.  I’m really excited about it because it feels kind of like a mini poetry festival to me and it’s something different that I certainly haven’t tried before, and I don’t think there is anything like it going on anywhere else.  If you would like more information on the course, have a look at ‘Forthcoming Residential Poetry Courses’ at the top of the page.  Because of a mix up with dates from my end (yes, more confusion) the original tutor, the fantastic poet Rebecca Goss is unable to make it up to tutor on that weekend.  I’m hoping she’ll be able to tutor on the 2016 Poetry Workshop Carousel  So the fourth tutor is yet to be announced, so please watch this space!

I posted about the course on the blog on Friday and already over a quarter of the places have gone.  If you are thinking of booking, please do so as soon as possible.  I’m expecting the spaces to go very quickly.

Today’s Sunday Poem is by Martin Zarrop – a lovely man who I met about six or seven years ago on a residential course.  I know I often say poets that I feature here are lovely and they all are – but Martin has a kindness about him coupled with a very quick wit.  Since that first residential, I went on another residential course which Martin was on about four years ago, I’ve bumped into him a couple of times at events in Manchester and then he came on the residential course that I was running this year at Abbot Hall at Easter.

Martin has very recently had a pamphlet published by Cinnamon Press called ‘No Theory of Everything’ which I would recommend. Martin also sent me a very modest 2 line biography which I heartily disapprove of, so I’ve done a bit of digging to find something a bit more boastful to say about him  Martin says he is a mathematician who wanted certainty but found life more interesting without it.  He has been published in various magazines and anthologies including Envoi, Poetry News, Prole, Kaffekatsch and The Book of Love & Loss.  He was Highly Commended in the 2012 Ledbury Poetry Competition, and his pamphlet was published by Cinnamon Press after winning their inaugral pamphlet competition.  The judge Ian Gregson said this of Martin’s pamphlet:

A very intelligent collection that draws upon a knowledge of science to describe, in effective poetic terms, the impact of scientific thought and discovery in the twentieth century. Its mingling of science and history is especially telling, and it manages to make science compelling by showing its relevance to personal experience.

I’ve chosen Coats from the pamphlet.  This is a poem whose emotional heart is driven as much by what isn’t said than what is said.  There is a whole history and life in these four short stanzas.  There is a real sense of poverty, or at least having to be careful with money in the first few stanzas – the thin ankles, the torn pockets and the folding of the coats underneath the theatre seats to avoid the cloakroom fee.

The poem is full of specific place names – Albert Square, the Exchange stalls, Cross Street but for all its specificity, it is also very mysterious.  We don’t know why the ‘you’ is angry in Stanza 3 but this has the feel of a turning point in a relationship – the place the relationship could have faltered or carried on, and it carried on. In the last stanza, I don’t know what the ‘weight of purple’ is, although it makes me think of the Jenny Joseph poem Warning which starts ‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple’.  I have no idea if this little nod to the Jenny Joseph poem is deliberate, but it certainly makes me think that this relationship was a long one, that the ‘Later’ of the first line of the last stanza, refers to years later, not merely days.  The last line, the idea of running out of evenings is unbearably sad and beautifully understated.

If you would like to order Martin’s pamphlet, I am sure you will make him and his publisher very happy if you order direct from them here

Coats – Martin Zarrop

Your cardinal’s coat flapped against thin ankles
as our breath frosted Albert Square.I wore the check Oxfam overcoat,
hands driven into torn pockets.

Arm in arm we braved the town drunks,
sat in row F of the Exchange stalls,
coats neatly folded under each seat
to save the cloakroom fee.

In Cross Street, a taxi u-turned,
almost ran you down.
You were angry with me.
It could have ended there.

Later, you walked more slowly
under the weight of purple.
We ate pizza, savoured red wine,
ran out of evenings.

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