Welcome to Leicester poems on air

Three of my poems about life in Leicester city, written during my writing residency, have been published in Welcome to Leicester, an anthology of 90 poems about what this diverse city means to those live here (Dahlia Publishing), edited by Emma Lee and Ambrose Musiyiwa.

Unfortunately, I was unable to make the launch held at Leicester’s African Caribbean Centre as part of Leicester’s Everybody’s Reading festival, so my contributor’s copy was doubly welcome when it arrived by post.

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Emma Lee has written about editing the anthology on her blog here.

Emma and Ambrose have been busy promoting the anthology since the launch.  Here’s a link to a conversation about the anthology on Leicester Community Radio with an airing of some of the poems, including Ambrose’s spirited reading of my celebratory LCFC poem, ‘The Art of Winning’ at approx 30 minutes in.

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‘The Art of Winning,’ published in ‘Welcome to Leicester, poems about the city’ (Dahlia Publishing 2016)

 

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In this morning’s post

On my hallway doormat this morning:

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This poetry collection is the second publication by University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing in connection with the AHRC-funded project, Women’s Writing in the Midlands, 1750-1850.  

Most of the poems in the collection arose out of a series of workshops run by Deborah Tyler-Bennett as part of the project.  Also included are Deborah’s poem ‘A Walk With Susanna Watts…’, and my poem ‘Singing Bird Box,’ two of several poems commissioned in 2015 and previously published in a pamphlet, Friendship’s Scrapbook – poems written in response to Leics, Leicester & Rutland Records Office archive materials on the lives and work of two Leicester women, Susanna Watts and Elizabeth Heyrick.  Both women held passionate views on the abolition of slavery and animal rights, and were actively involved in women’s anti-slavery societies, publishing their own periodical, The Hummingbird.

A PDF version of the poetry collection, including notes on the archive material which inspired each poem, is available to read here.

The journeys poems make

The back story:

2014 was a fruitful year.  My best since I’d started writing poetry in 2008(ish).  And my best to date.  Whilst on sick leave following my first hip replacement, I made myself a spreadsheet to better keep track of poem submissions and consequent rejections/acceptances.  I’m pretty sure it’s not as fool-proof as the Jo Bell method or as eye-catching as Kim Moore’s colour-coded one described here but it’s certainly a vast improvement on previous tabular efforts at keeping tabs on my poems’ venturing forth to speak for themselves.  Between March and November that year, 15 poems were accepted for magazine publication, either in print or online.  8 of these, also published in my pamphlet, Beyond the Tune, made it under the wire to magazines before BTT‘s September publication date.

2015 successes were much thinner on the ground: 1 poem was published in issue 11 of The Lampeter Review;  4 of my pamphlet poems also appeared in the Soundswrite Press anthology; 1 poem was commissioned by University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing: a total of 2 new and 4 previously-published poems accepted.

A bit of a sob story:

2016 saw me in The Slough of Despond, at times.  I wrote less; I had far fewer poems worth submitting.  Life (and joint pain) took over and the only thing that kept me writing (and believing in myself as a poet) was my Bru Leicester Writes residency and commissioned sequence of poems (and Leicester City’s footfall fairy tale, of course).

Some good:

3 of the 6 poems are published in Welcome to Leicester, an anthology of poems about the city (Dahlia Publishing) being launched as I type (sadly I’m unable to make it).  And 1 pamphlet poem has been published in Half Moon: poems about pubs (OWF Press).

What’s the point?

Like all writers, I sometimes get to thinking that I’ll never again write anything worth publishing.   Or anything at all, apart from a few lines of barely-legible scribble (drivel) in a notebook that’s been on-the-go forever.  I congratulate others on their successes while suffering Imposter Syndrome (and maybe I read other writers’ blogs to know I’m not alone in this).  And what of that spreadsheet begun with such purpose a couple of years ago?  Many/most of those rejected poems aren’t currently being re-submitted.  I’ve decided they need further work, or they’ll never be the Real Deal and have been consigned to a sub folder (‘Dubious’) of a sub folder (‘Unfinished’).  Currently, I’ve more time to write but have written very little.  My only fledgling is back in the WIP nest recovering from a first flight to a workshop group.

The suspension of disbelief:

Recently, only 4 poems have remained ‘out there.’  Of these 4 poems, the same 2 have received encouraging comments from 2 different editors:

  • both made it to the final round of selections for the current issue of a magazine I rate highly
  • both were deemed ‘strong’ (with reasons given) from a batch of poems submitted for feedback during a certain widely-respected ‘open window.’

Breaking news:

It’s official!!!  ‘Unreserved Coach B’ is one of 50 winning poems chosen by competition judge Luke Kennard for The Best New British and Irish Poets 2017 (Eyewear Publishing) due for publication next March.

And the other ‘hopeful’? I’m keeping the faith 🙂

Post-hip op post: discoveries to date

that anaesthetists deliver on promises
that heavy sedation is a blissful state of unawareness
that I’m a lesser wimp than I thought

that the state of my affected joint was worse than any of us knew
that my pain threshold must be higher than I knew
that my surgeon is a wizard at carpentry

that post-op pain relief is a heady cocktail
that codeine is the very devil
that it is never a good idea to ditch the drugs too soon

that home is a house with a far-from-ideal floor plan
that the downstairs bathroom is never further away than in the wee small hours
that essential item is upstairs and you’re downstairs – and vice versa

that physio exercises serve to remind one’s muscles what slackers they’ve become
that counting to 10 is far quicker than 10 seconds
that it’s far easier to fall asleep mid-afternoon than at bedtime

that short walks are, at first, longer than one remembers
that a human on crutches is just another four-legged creature to a young puppy on a lead
that two legs of the same length are a joy

that increasing frustration with these wretched crutches is an indicator of progress
that, although my body’s ageing faster than my head, we both feel younger than of late
that there is a fine line between increasing mobility and overdoing things

that, when I have all the time in the world in which to write, there is all the time in the world for displacement activity – or inactivity
that watching the first two minutes of the Jeremy Kyle Show means you’re hooked and waiting for those lie detector results…
that there is always tomorrow – even if today’s a Sunday

that, four weeks in, cabin fever hasn’t set in
that the world doesn’t stop turning when I can’t get to a coffee shop/a poetry event
that next week’s diary is blank space and I don’t care