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‘Apple Pie in Pizzaland’ by Maura Dooley and a new writing prompt from Ben Rogers

Today’s poem featured at the very first Aldeburgh Poetry Festival held back in 1989.  It describes a meeting in a pizza restaurant where both individuals are painfully “apologising to one another” and fiddling with menus and cutlery, before a sudden flight of imagination sees the restaurant, along with the rest of the country, being magically transported across the Atlantic.

At Poetry in Aldeburgh: Maura Dooley will read as part of ‘Uncertainty and Light’ with poets Pamela Johnson and Jack Underwood on Sunday 6th November, 1-2pm in the Jubilee Hall.


Apple Pie in Pizzaland

We are apologising to one another
for our shynesses.  The waitress apologises
for the lack of sultanas (not like the picture,
she says).  I still probe between the slices of
apple as if I expect to find something other than
air.  You spin the menu and pleat the paper napkin,
our cutlery scrapes eloquently enough.

On the train here a Canadian told me how
his province holds a lake the size of England.
I imagine you and I and Pizzaland, the green tables,
Doncaster, the fields, motorways, castles and flats,
churches, factories, corner shops, pylons, Hinkley Point,
Lands End and all of us dropped
in that huge lake, plop.

Years later new people will stroll on
the banks, remarking how in drought
you might see the top of Centrepoint
and in the strange stillness hear the ghostly
ring and clatter of Pizzaland forks on plates.

from Sixty Women Poets, ed. Linda France (Bloodaxe, 1993) and Aldeburgh Poetry Anthology 1989-1998 (Aldeburgh Poetry Trust, 1998)



Writing Prompt – Café Society

From tea and scallop-shaped madeleines in Proust’s Swann’s Way that send the narrator spinning into an extended memory of things past, to the gallery of characters consuming vast quantities of caffeine and nicotine in Jim Jarmusch’s film Coffee and Cigarettes, tea and coffee with various accompaniments have long been used by writers to advance narratives, develop characters, and partner copious chat. Today’s exercise is to visit a local café, and to base a poem in this location, featuring tea or coffee and a meeting between two people.  These people may be invented, or other customers may inspire you. Ensure that you incorporate some authentic detail and in the process possibly plant an otherwise innocuous venue (there’s a Pizzaland in Doncaster that’s still open for business) onto the poetry map.

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