A couple of years back, I was one of the artists commissioned to write and film poems for Nationwide Building Society tv and radio ads (see my post Nationwide Exposure). This was brokered by The Poetry Takeaway ‘the world’s first mobile poetry emporium’, an organisation which employs poets to write pieces on demand at events across the country.
Last week I was one of four poets working on the NBS stand at the Royal Welsh show. We sweated over poems all day as temperatures soared and had a really good time networking with each other and meeting lots of people with their own stories to tell. One of my commissions came from Gill. As with everyone, I listened carefully to what she wanted to tell me, wrote her a poem, read it to her and gave her the handwritten piece.
She wanted it to be funny, so I was pleased to hear her laughing. She also thought it could be serious. So it is. This particular poem resonated with me, and though I don’t normally do this, I asked Gill if she would mind me sharing it on my blog so others could read it. She agreed straight away, so here it is:
The woman in the freezer aisle
is talking really loud.
Help! I want my brain back!
She’s gathering a crowd.
She’s forgotten what she came in for.
She’s staring at the shelf.
The boys at home don’t understand
why I repeat myself.
The doctor says I’m ‘under-tall
for someone of my weight’.
My husband needs a medal.
I’m in a dreadful state.
I’m feeling old, I’m sleep deprived,
it’s so hard being me.
Oh, the naps! The chin on chest!
I need more HRT!!
A river running down her back,
she’s trying to keep her cool.
The woman in the freezer aisle
is stranded in a pool.
(But she’s a clever actress
and doesn’t say a word.
The shouting’s in her head –
which is why she isn’t heard.)
© Heather Wastie
You may have seen the series of Nationwide Building Society tv ads which has been running for a while now, featuring poets performing their own work. Well now it’s my turn. I was one of several poets contacted by The Poetry Takeaway and commissioned to write poems fitting a brief to do with mums and sons. I was asked to write 2 poems, one lasting 30 seconds and the other just 10 seconds and film them on my phone. Of the poems written, mine were chosen to be filmed by VCCP to be used on tv and in cinemas if all went well. So ….
I travelled down to London by train from Kidderminster then got in a taxi to Bexley Heath, a bit of a nightmare journey as it coincided with the tube strike. Then I spent a day in a vast allotment recording my poems over and over again, outside at first, then in a car when the weather turned. In the morning it got pretty chilly sitting around between takes but there was a lovely chap who draped a sleeping bag over me whenever there was a long enough break, and I was plied with hot drinks all day. The director and film crew were a real pleasure to work with and the owner of the plot we used came and had a look. She asked me for an autograph for her son, which was nice, and apt.
That was in January. Now, at the end of March, the ad is actually going live. A couple of weeks ago I went down to London again to record the longer poem for radio, and it will be in print too. I have been paid for every stage of this project, and also for a day writing poems on demand at Nationwide’s conference for all their employees, at the NEC. Some of the employees wrote poems of their own saying how much they enjoyed their work. I very much enjoyed mine too, and this collaboration between poets and a building society, brokered by The Poetry Takeaway, is doing a great job of bringing a variety of poetry into people’s homes and raising the profile of poetry and poets.
Here’s a link to my 30 second poem https://youtu.be/z7q9zmc4hjY?list=PLF9206AD222A37AA8