Notes from an empath: Empty suitcases

I am unable to pack lightly.


In the days leading up to taking a trip, I pack with an anxious ‘what if’ approach, conjuring up every scenario that I can think of that might require me to have a specific object / piece of clothing / pair of shoes on hand. I’ll have everything packed the night before I go, and then I’ll unpack and repack in the morning, squeezing lip balm, three more books, extra shoelaces, and a USB-powered mini fan into any spare space in my suitcases.


Fill them up, I say to myself. I can carry all this stuff.


Not that packing a bag has been an issue recently. My well traveled suitcases have sat empty on my wardrobe for months. I look at them longingly, my wanderlust simmering away inside me.


Fill us up, they seem to say to me. We can carry all your stuff.


One day, hopefully soon, it will be safe to travel again, and I will get to cram my empty suitcases full once more.


In the meantime, I’ve decided to hit the road Zoom-styles. On Sunday 21 March I am hosting an online event called #HavePoemsWillTravel, and it will feature short performances from 21 writers and poets from Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Norway, the USA and Australia.


[Yes, that’s twenty-one people! Along with overstuffing my suitcases, I also like to pack poetry evenings full of performances by amazing people!]


This idea came out of the fact that it has been exactly one year (to the day) since I last hopped a train to Huddersfield to host the monthly performance night, Cellar Stories, at the Lawrence Batley Theatre … AND that this Sunday is the UNESCO-designated World Poetry Day. In my travels, I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting poets from lots of different places, and I wondered whether some of us could bring our voices together beyond geographical borders. So, on Sunday 21 March at 6.30pm (GMT) we’ll traverse five time zones and hear words from an incredible lineup of writers and poets.



While it won’t quite be the same as squeezing into a quirky poetry venue together to share hugs and laughs and drinks, the beauty of Zoom is that we can all tune in from comfy corners in our homes curled up in our cosy clothes.


If, dear reader, you would like to join us, you would be very welcome. The joy of Zoom means there is room for all … can I extend the theme of this blog even further by saying, the more the merrier! Visit this link to book a spot. Tickets are free, but if you’d like to make a contribution, all money collected will be donated to Salford Foodbank (in the UK) and Harvest Manitoba (in Canada).


If you can’t make it (or if you’re reading this after the date) that’s okay. Hopefully we can meet up in person before too long. Look out for me … I’ll be the one dragging the very heavy suitcase.

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