Catching up: poetry and other news #2

Having attended a Poetry Business writing day and their pilot reading day, I knew that a free afternoon poetry workshop with Ann and Peter Sansom, right here in Leicester, was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.  The workshop was a precursor to their guest readings that evening at Word!, Leicester’s monthly poetry and spoken word night at the ‘Y’ theatre.  Through a series of short writing exercises, some using published poems as a stimulus for ideas, I left two hours later with pages of usable scribble and one or two poems in the starting blocks.  I’m pleased that one of these, The Dream, has been accepted for publication in the June issue of The Lake, an online poetry magazine, which I came across via Alison Brackenbury’s Facebook group, Poems from Alison (or it may have been through Coventry’s war poet for our times, Antony Owen, whose work also features on here).

After a fairly fallow 2013, in terms of poem acceptances, I’m pleased that this year is already proving much more fruitful.  Due in part, I think, to that super-improved submission tracker I mentioned here and to a resultant flurry of submissions to various print and online magazines.  I’ve a poem in the March issue of Antiphon, online here.  Other acceptances forthcoming: poems in May and June issues of The Lake, The Interpreter’s House #56 (although the Brighton launch is too far away for me, I’m looking forward to the ‘Northern'(!) launch at Five Leaves bookshop in Nottingham in July), the June issue of London Grip and either the summer or autumn issue of Obsessed with Pipework.  There’s a steady stream of rejection letters and emails, too, but I’m getting much better at prompt re-submissions (or, in some cases, making the decision not to, because they just aren’t good enough).

The aforementioned Antony Owen was instrumental in my poetry exchange visit to Cork in 2012.  Paul Casey, who runs O’Bheal’s weekly poetry events in Cork, was a wonderful host.  It was a pleasure, therefore, to catch up with him at Coventry’s Playwrights Café restaurant and bar the other week, together with Antony and his lovely wife Jo, fellow 2012 exchange poet Janet Smith and others including Tom Wyre (on of three 2013 exchange poets and the current Staffs poet laureate).  Great to meet (properly/face-to-face) Here Comes Everyone editor Adam Steiner, blogger and reviewer John Field, and Joseph Horgan.  Joseph and Antony have co-written a forthcoming Pighog collection, The Year I Loved England, from which they read several poems during the evening.  Paul read from his excellent Salmon Press collection Home, More or Less and a selection of new work. All three were invited guests at Coventry’s Guildhall  the following day for the final engagement of the Irish President’s state visit.  In Michael D Higgins’ speech, he commended, amongst others, the work of the Coventry-Cork poetry exchange.

In other news, I’ve written one or two poems from weekly prompts on Jo Bell’s ’52’ initiative.  There’s a closed Facebook group where 52ers can workshop their poems.  I’m a frequent browser and occasional contributor.  There’s lots of amazing stuff on there.  It’s a thriving and supportive creative community.

To be continued…

 

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Catching up: poetry and other news #1

I’ve lots of news for you as, once again, I’ve neglected my little blog for too long. So here’s the first in a series of (hopefully shorter than usual) posts:

I’ve recently returned to work after a smooth and uncomplicated recovery following my hip replacement in January.  It’s such a joy to be more or less pain-free, able to walk briskly without limping after six years or so of declining mobility – and even enjoy a spot of gardening.  I’ve begun to accept that, although my head is convinced it’s still a young ‘un, the rest of me isn’t!  And from tomorrow, my 60% working week will comprise three full days, rather than spread across the week.  I’m looking forward to fewer early morning alarms and reduced car mileage/petrol expenditure for starters.

States of Independence gets better each year.  This independent small press publishing day brings together writers, readers, tutors, facilitators, students, publishers and more.  I did an early stint on the Soundswrite Press stand, conveniently situated opposite the main entrance to DMU’s Clephan Building.  Having snapped up an eagerly-awaited copy of Caroline Cook’s pamphlet, Primer, I spent the rest of the hour chatting to lots of people, some of whom I hadn’t seen for quite some time, and meeting new faces.  I decided to allow myself plenty of time to explore the stands, browse the books and enjoy lunch and a coffee around the corner.  These I fitted around the three readings/showcases I’d chosen to attend.  The last of these was the Soundswrite Press showcase: readings by several poets who featured in the last anthology, followed by Caroline’s pamphlet launch.  Lots of us had our primer-pink copies to hand during her reading.  Of my purchases, this was my chosen bedtime reading that night – I found, once in, I couldn’t put it down. You can buy a copy here.  In a bid to reduce my To Read pile, I had a mental shopping list this year.  Here’s the booty:

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Caroline’s launch also means that my forthcoming pamphlet publication date (TBA, but certainly this autumn) edges closer still.  I’m relieved that, having finalised the poems and their order with my editor, the wonderful, ever-supportive (feet-firmly-on-the-ground) DA Prince (whose latest collection is forthcoming from HappenStance Press), the editing stage is now well underway.  This stage in the process feels easier to live with as the end product seems more attainable, more real.  The pamphlet has a kind of narrative thread, in two halves, with a dark centre comprising four poems which I have plans to develop into a larger body of work.  It still has no title.