2017 year-to-view

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On a personal level, 2017 will live long in my memory as the year in which:

  • I retired from Primary School teaching
  • We down-sized
  • My husband’s sudden illness and ongoing recovery put everything else into perspective

Consequently, my poetry year has comprised short periods of intense activity and extended periods when writing (and reading, too, at times) could not have been further from my mind.  And, at one point, I felt less like reading and writing poetry than I have ever felt.

Writing:

  • April was a good month: Carrie Etter’s NaPoWriMo Facebook group, the prompts and spirit of mutual encouragement saw me writing daily – at best an early poem draft, at worst a few lines in my notebook.  There’s a legacy in lines for future fodder, poems-in-progress and poems already submitted.
  • Published: a poem in Eyewear’s ‘Best British & Irish Poets’ 2017 anthology and a poem in issue 66 of The Interpreter’s House magazine.
  • Accepted: a poem for the DIVERSIFLY anthology (Fair Acre Press) to be published next month; two poems for issue 21 of Under the Radar magazine to be published next spring.
  • Rejections: numerous, which is a good thing in that, for a while, there was hope for those poems, and I then had the choice of whether to re-draft or re-submit them.
  • Submissions still ‘out there’: 5 poems entered for 3 competitions.
  • Ready for submission: 9 poems, being 7 re-submissions and 2 first submissions.

Reading:

3 stand-out poetry collections/pamphlets:

  • Some Couples by Jennifer Copley (HappenStance)
  • All My Mad Mothers by Jacqueline Saphra (Nine Arches Press)
  • This is Not a Rescue by Emily Blewitt (Seren)

3 poems for our times that I keep going back to:

Online reading: far too much to include, but notably:

  • blogs by other writers/poets (you know who you are, and thank you all for enriching my reading with new-to-me poets, poetry and blog sites).
  • Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: rich seams to mine (and a reminder to self that I’m waaay behind on these weekly posts).
  • Jen Campbell’s Youtube channel: she’s responsible for numerous purchases of prose and poetry this year, including her own books.

Events:

Some helped to keep me sane when ‘stuff’ was way too stressful; others were highlights.  Since I’ve opted to limit myself to three worthy of mention:

My sincere thanks go to:

  • Soundswrite poetry group and South Leics poetry stanza: for lively poetry discussion and insightful feedback on poem drafts.
  • Farhana Shaikh and fellow writers across the genres at monthly Writers’ Meet-ups in Leicester.
  • Matthew Vaughan and Leicester Central Library: for monthly Write On events showcasing the work of Leicester writers.
  • And, not least, to all of you who have taken the time to read, ‘like’, comment on and share my blog posts this year.

 

Wishing you all a happy New Year! 🙂

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Seasonal Reading: a blog/site tour

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There’s a bumper crop of seasonal poems on blogs and sites I follow or have come across via recent e-newsletters and social media, lately.  Whether it’s Christmas, the winter solstice, snow or winter trees that float your boat, there’s bound to be at least one or two poems to interest or inspire you from this selection:

  • At the time of writing, Roy Marshall has published not one but four selections of Winter Poems.  Click here for the latest and you’ll then be able to click back to previous ones
  • Two poems by Jean Atkin on Abegail Morley’s Poetry Shed capture the white season beautifully
  • Robin Houghton’s choice of Poems for a Christmas Concert includes one of my favourites, Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Prayer’
  • Anthony Wilson’s New Nativity Monologue – An Angel also has a link to more Christmas Poems, being a contemporary ‘take’ on the nativity
  • Modern Poetry in Translation is a site well worth visiting at any time of year; there’s a flavour of what they have to offer via their Poetry Advent Calendar
  • The Poetry Foundation‘s site has collections of Winter Poems and Christmas Poems, each containing a mix of classic and contemporary poems
  • London Grip New Poetry‘s latest issue: winter 2017-18 may be seasonal in name only, but it’s a pick ‘n’ mix if you’re tired of all things – er, seasonal
  • Anthony Wilson’s ‘What You Read in 2017‘ is a Top Ten of Lifesaving Poems and posts plus some of AW’s personal favourites
  • If you’re hungry for more, Matthew Stewart’s annual ‘Best UK Poetry Blogs‘ roll of honour is a chocolate box for the browser (I’m not sure my infrequent efforts warrant a place here, but I’m chuffed nevertheless)

If you’ve come across other seasonal pickings worth checking out, do add them in the comments box below.

Happy seasonal reading 🙂

Jayne

Liz Berry at Rugby library

It’s been three years since the publication of Liz Berry’s Black Country collection.  I remember devouring it in one sitting (that was greedy of me; it’s a rich dish, the better for savouring).  It became my 2014 favourite, and remains high on my list of favourite poetry collections.

An infrequent Twitter visitor, I was pleased to spot a retweet for Saturday’s Warwickshire Poetry Voices event (thank you, @NineArchesPress) and promptly bagged a free e-ticket.  After a short drive across the Leicestershire-Warwickshire border, my sat nav obligingly located nearby parking and I had time to enjoy a coffee beforehand.

The programme began with readings of favourite published poems and own work by members of Rugby poetry group (fresh from a workshop with Liz Berry, the lucky creatures).  I particularly enjoyed hearing Maya Angelou’s empowering Phenomenal Woman and laughed aloud at Sophie Hannah’s If People Disapprove of You, both new to me, both striking a chord.

Liz Berry’s was a short reading in the time allotted, but a joy nevertheless.  She gave her audience full permission to stretch [your] legs and have a good wriggle (proving that you can’t take the Primary teacher out of the poet 🙂 ) before opening with ‘Bobowler’,  (a large moth) a poem commissioned by BBC local radio for National Poetry Day, celebrating the Black Country’s favourite dialect word.  Berry followed with ‘Homing’, her love poem to the Black Country accent with its consonants/ you could lick the coal from.  ‘Birmingham Roller celebrates this dull grey city bird, the tumbling pigeon, in a dialect poem rich with gems such as tranklement and jimmucking.  ‘Stone’ is a love poem for a rarer gem, the husband who gives a milk pan (and, more recently, we’re told, a glue gun) as a Christmas gift.  Before concluding her reading with’Christmas Eve,’ Berry explained that, in writing the poem, she wanted to do for the Black Country what Dylan Thomas achieved in Under Milk Wood.  And doesn’t she just!

Throughout, I barely glanced at my copy of Black Country.  It was clear from the outset that these are love poems to the local language this Dudley-born poet grew up hearing, borne out in Liz Berry’s responses to questions from the audience afterwards.

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