I've been in the Poetry Society since I was a young teenager and the quarterly issue of Poetry Review through the post has had many emotional impacts. It has never made me laugh as much as it did today though. There was a face I recognised on the front page of Poetry News, the newspaper-style publication that accompanies Poetry Review these days. It was the face of my alter ego on the virtual world of Second Life - that tireless champion of poetry and writing in the 3D world, Ms Jilly Kidd. And boy does she look earnest.
I'm tempted to sing 'Me and my Avatar' to the tune of 'Me and My Shadow' as I talk about Jilly. She has accompanied me through the 3D world doing all sorts of things I'd love to be doing in the real world, and while others use Second Life to live out their various fantasies (which I'll leave you to imagine), ours seem to have centred very single-mindedly around writing and writers. I've brought my two sons up on my own since my husband left 8 years ago, so doing all this around London would be tricky as they need me at home, and poets are generally broke so childcare isn't always an option.
For years I've thought how lovely it would be to be in a Poetry Society publication, and I've admired the poets whose work I've seen in there. More and more I'm seeing names of people I know personally, which feels very special. The last thing I thought would be that I'd see myself there, with my better half Jilly talking about the virtual Stanza we run for the Poetry Society. These Stanzas are usually run by members in real towns all over the UK and abroad so that local poets can get together and encourage and support each other. I found it hard to get out to them myself but really wanted to take part and the Second Life Stanza has let me do that. I hope it also helps others who can't get out of the house easily for various reasons, and the added bonus is that it lets poets from all over the world get together.
I think I shall just go and share this moment of enjoyment with Jilly, and if you're a poet or writer maybe you'll join us on Second Life. It was fun to see how they overlapped photos of me and Jilly on the inside back page where the Stanza Profile articles appear, and how Jilly's photo made it to the top of the front page without me of course! There's no stopping that girl.