This Saturday I'm one of a team of Lancashire and Yorkshire writers (oddly it feels, I've been placed on the Lancs side; Dad will be turning in his grave) who are spending the day in Ted Hughes' boyhood home in cross-border collaborations to reflect, write and finally perform our responses to the very particular landscape of the Calder valley.
Naturally I'm nervous - improvising is never a piece of cake at the best of times and then to be riffing with a stranger - well, who knows what'll come up? But I'm also excited. For the same reasons.
Plus, the area is a second poetic home. It's where I first cut my teeth on the title of 'poet' - as Poet in Residence for Calderdale Libraries back in 2004. Part of which was to write a commission on reading. I spent a lot of time stomping about the hills and along the canal thinking about reading and books and looking at the steep slope sides there (upon which I still see claw marks).
I'm also interested in where I fit in the Lancs/Yorks geography. Born and living in Yorkshire until I was 18, but now living in Lancashire, and firmly attached to the NW ... Andrew McMillan (the lead poet on the project) has cast me Lancastrian. This doesn't sit so comfortably. In an odd way I feel more Yorkshire than I do English. And yet can't imagine moving back East.
And then there's that whole political sheenanigans with the upper reaches of Calderdale now technically Yorkshire but once Lancashire. How must they feel?
So I'm imaging some of the above and hopefully a lot more will shake out on Saturday. If you're interested in coming along to hear how, contact the Hebden Bridge Tourist Office.
This, in some respects, feels a breeze in comparison to what I'm up to on Saturday 4th December: being one of the Bespoke Poets in Residence at Storey Gallery's Christmas Market. Gulp. It was the Gallery's idea - sell poems as presents for people who have everything - poems about them.
The idea being we have a chat/consultation with the purchaser about the person in question and over the course of the day write a poem about them which we present later as a card. I have no idea how this will work out - if it'll be a string of arguments about what a poem is (rhyming and comic), if people refuse to pay for something they don't like, if I'll find inside me an endless source of responsive creativity, if people give us a wide berth ... But it'll be a new experience. And of course you're welcome. If only to buy a nice pair of earrings from another stall.