Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter

Music, Poetry, Politics

Campaign Trail – Day 21

Saturday was more of a day away from the campaign trail than on it. I’d been asked a long time ago to do a set of poetry at the Turn The Page Artists’ Book Fair, and spent a lot of last week thinking about which poems I would actually perform. I was sharing a stage with the very talented Two Coats Colder folk band, so I was even more nervous than normal. Footfall at 2014’s fair was over 13,000 people over its two days, and first estimates are that this year’s footfall was even larger. Every reason not to fall flat on my face.

In the end, it went really well, I’m glad to say. I made four new friends, listened to some great music, and contributed my 15 minutes to the 2pm performance with no greater problem than a very dry mouth, but had my bottled Stradbroke water to hand.

The theme of the set (music and poetry) was the sea, so I read a sequence of poems from a work in progress called the 366 which chronicles the existence of two beings in the forest near somewhere which could be anywhere on the east coast in Norfolk or Suffolk. I’ll post all the poems I read on this blog at some point soon. I ended my first set with a poem I dedicated to all the women on the planet, prefaced with the hope that they will grab with both hands the equality they should have. I was really dead chuffed when that one had the whole of the Forum in Norwich applauding.

To my surprise, Two Coats Colder asked me to have a cup of tea with them, and then asked me (even more surprisingly) to stay on and contribute to the 4:30pm set they were due to perform. I was humbled and flattered, and obviously couldn’t refuse. Good job I’d brought some more poems with me. And, because I was asked by so many people to do so, I finished with the same poem I’d finished the first set with:



You make yourself old before you are,
Hiding behind the invisibility the world
Creates for all women of a certain age.

Time is nothing.

Time doesn’t move.
We move through static time.

You could wear now

The clothes you wore when we first met.
You could wear now
The smile you wore when we first met,
And I looked up from some book or another,
Full of useless scribbles,
And you looked back, because I was there.

What has passed has passed.

It is not what makes us. These numbers
Are artificial measures of a time
We don’t have.

You could wear nothing

And I would love every mark
Of the time you have passed through.
You could wear leopard skin legs
And I would worship you
The way I do now, in the cloak of the banal.
Nothing changes inside us,
And time is outside.

Stop counting.

I have. I never started.

The great thing about the fair is not only the amazing book art that is invariably present, but the fact that it seems to attract so very many zine producers, and most of them radically feminist. These are old-fashioned pamphleteers who put their thoughts (and those of their contributors) down on paper, who print and fold their zines by hand, for whom the digital manifestation of their thoughts and beliefs is a by-product, who believe that pieces of paper, passed on hand-to-hand, is still the best way of spreading their message, just like Tyndale’s bible was. We forget, in our digital age, how much power paper still has, and, coming back to Stradbroke, not always power for the good (my election leaflet excepted, of course).
I hope to be able to do a gig with Two Coats Colder again in the near future, and I hope next year’s Turn The Page fair is even more successful than this year’s. To go to Norwich was to escape the insanity of the awful things that are happening behind the scenes her in Stradbroke as we strive to move towards a better future for the village, only to have some parish councillors, and those who would be the powers behind the throne, assuming they still hold the trump cards that will prevail. Well, they are mistaken. This is a free election, and the people of Stradbroke will, hopefully, vote in their droves, and vote for change.
Thanks to Marina Florance (left) and Jules (second from right, and whose surname I always, in a very non-politician way forget) for booking me, and for organising one of East Anglia’s best events every year. And thanks to Two Coats Colder (the rest in the pic) for putting up with me.

Promoted by Richard Pierce-Saunderson of Spring Cottage, Church Street, Stradbroke, Suffolk, IP21 5HT.

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