I’m been thinking a lot about the North lately and when I was searching around for a subject for my 821, I was drawn to the year I moved to Newcastle. It seemed to make sense to focus on a time in my life when everything felt new, something that mirrored the uncertainty that comes with trying out a brand new poetic form.
I’d been having a typically rotten time in my mid-twenties – a failed relationship, a disappointing ‘drinker’s degree’ and no clue about what I was doing with my life – and when a friend invited me up to Newcastle for the summer I thought the change of scenery would do me good. I wasn’t moving to Newcastle, I was just visiting.
And yet here I am almost 20 years later, still living in the north east. I always thought the ‘scenery’ was one of the things that kept me here in those early years – the amazing beaches, the varied landscapes of the countryside – but writing this 821 reminded that World Headquarters had just as much to do with me making the north east my home. I loved spending weekends there with my housemates and the good friends I’d made. The music was always incredible and I felt protected by, and part of, the beautiful community of people who gathered there.
Trying to pack everything that WHQ represented into 8 lines was challenge enough but finding a way to resolve the poem in the couplet and the final single line was even harder. There was no handy anthology packed with hundreds of examples of this new form so it really felt like feeling your way in the dark. I hope I’ve done Worldies justice. I’m looking forward to reading more 821s and seeing just what the form can do. Maybe then I’ll think about trying to write another one…