On the first day of May, start of my ’24 Poems about Southend’ project #EndOfTheFear I took this Tweet as a good omen:

This being half a week, with a Bank Holiday tacked on at the start of next week, had been initially earmarked in my planning as Legwork. I may have lived in Southend for decades, but for a fair portion of the last 10 years I was genuinely scared to even go out my front door. A lot has changed, this mind was vaguely aware of. Today has taught me not just how much is different, but how I have altered too.

I went to the place where main town Library used to be… except it’s not there any more and instead there’s a Gallery, which hosts exhibitions such as the Sub Cultures one above. It taught me that a band I’d always thought were Southend based were indeed formed here, their album cover that’s ingrained into memory that stretch of road between here and London I always thought it was.

That however is nothing compared to the surprise I got going downstairs in the same building and discovering The Jazz Centre (UK) has been there for over two years. I’m partly embarrassed then staggered into disbelief that a place like this, which I have a real, personal interest in, could exist literally on my front door without realising that was the case. I’ll be off there again next week to write a poem.

However, this got me no closer to working out where they’d moved the Library. Eventually I found it, in a space that used to be a car park, and have brought home some selected reading on places and people of the town so that I may open my brain to the potential possibilities history can offer in writing poetry. Change has already wrought a profound effect on that progress: my initial plan is gonna need some revision.

Once upon a time this would have caused me considerable stress, having spent so long pulling disparate ideas together. Not any more. Now this shift in course feels like natural, correct progression, means by which both project and I will evolve as time goes on. It means that across the weekend we’ll look again at potential sites to dedicate poetry to and quite possibly amend a few.

I’m already looking forward to my destination tomorrow in anticipation.