Today I have a guest post from blogger and Fest Magazine kids editor Ruth Dawkins on how husband Young Dawkins’ 2011 PBH Free Fringe show, What I Know About Women So Far, has been a definite team effort.

It’s not always easy being married to a poet. Young and I use up a significant number of babysitting credits not on romantic dinners, but on evenings in dingy pubs, where I sit and watch him reading to half a dozen people. He is always shouting ‘that’s a poem’ in the middle of our conversations, and rushing off to scribble down a phrase or idea. And we spend hours trekking around stationery shops looking for just the right notebooks, because no others will do (yellow Levenger – A4 – lined).

I have always consoled myself with the thought that maybe, one day, Young would write a lovely poem about what a wonderful and supportive wife I am.

In some moment of madness, earlier this year, Young agreed to do a solo show as part of the PBH Free Fringe. He may have still been on some crazy, slam-induced adrenaline high after his time at the Poetry World Cup in Paris, or he may have genuinely thought it was a good idea… I will never know.

All I know is that it has taken over our lives for the last couple of months. We had no idea what was involved (and I use ‘we’ intentionally – this has certainly been a joint venture). Doing a ten minutes slot at someone else’s show is one thing; doing a whole hour by yourself is quite another.

There is the constant emailing about organisation, the Fringe registration, and the flyers… there are Tweets, texts, and Facebook event pages… there are press releases to send, photos to resize, programme entries to write, and blog posts to pimp…there is deciding what to wear, and how to stand, and whether it’s okay to read off the page… there is showing up to every other spoken word show, in the hope that the favour is returned… there is flyering in the rain, a preview in London that you really don’t want to do… and then that awful feeling of performing to two people, one of whom is your mother-in-law.

Oh yeah, and then there’s that hour-long show to write.

So why does he do it? What makes it worthwhile? I can’t speak for Young, but I think it’s probably for the small moment of satisfaction you get; from that one person who comes up at the end of a show and says that one of your poems has touched their heart; from that one stranger who takes the time to write something nice on your Facebook page; and from that one short but sweet review (she says, hopefully) that you can cut out and stick in your son’s scrapbook.

I do not grudge a minute of the time that Young and I have spent working on his show. Putting all bias aside, I think it is wonderful, and I am incredibly proud of him. I don’t even mind that in order to hear the one poem that he finally wrote about me, I have to sit and listen to fifty minutes of poetry about the other women in his life. I just hope that after all that effort someone (other than my Mum) shows up.

Ruth Dawkins tweets as @dorkymum and blogs at http://dorkymum.wordpress.com

Young Dawkins performs What I Know About Women So Far at The Royal Oak on the following dates:

8th-11th and 15th August at 2pm
22nd-25th August at 3.15pm

Today he will be performing as part of the No Sleep in Bristo poetry marathon at The Forest Cafe, and this weekend he is also compering the first BBC Slam Poetry Competition at the Fringe. For regular updates on his whereabouts, visit his website.

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