With just 2 weeks today until Britain’s most handsome festival of all things cycling and vintage my set list is taking shape. Like myself it has become a bit larger than it ought to be and over the next couple of weeks it needs to trim down a little.
There are a poems that have been heard around the country, poems that have only been heard close to home and a few that have never yet been heard in public. The task challenge in finalising a set list is to appeal to the audience, to get over whatever messages are intended, to give the audience a range of emotional experiences and of course to do the things we love to do. For my Eroica set the questions include:
How many poems about cycling? (currently 5 or 6 on the long-list)
How many political poems? (tricky just days before the referendum, 1 or 2 on the shortlist)
How many personal and family poems? (a few that have wide enough appeal)
Can I risk the really serious subjects? (can I avoid them – no – so yes there’s a few in the long list)
Can I risk making the audience cry? (can I even stop them crying)
Should I give them something to laugh or smile about? (of course – even if just to stop them crying)
How many old ones?
How many new ones?
How many can I fit into a half hour set with room to breathe, to listen, to digest, to laugh or cry and to chat with the audience?
So here I am in the middle of the night adding and subtracting from the list, a mini-referendum for each poem; in or out?
And as I think I’m nearly there I wonder about finishing one or two of the bunch of poems still under construction, but it gets late and “what if they aren’t ready, what if they won’t be good enough?” and the poet tries to get some sleep.