One poetry book too many?

Can one ever have too many poetry books? you might ask.

My poetry bookshelf currently houses:

  • around 230 single-author collections, New & Selecteds and pamphlets (I gave up counting)
  • over 50 anthologies
  • a down-sized selection of magazines (a short publishing history)
  • numerous On Writing books

The above are survivors of my best efforts at down-sizing my preciouses prior to last October’s house-into-bungalow move.  I’ve read almost all of them from cover to cover at least once.  On odd occasions I ask myself how many of these I’ll realistically re-read dip into in future.  Repeated attempts to curb my poetry book-purchasing are short-lived.

And that TBR pile? It’s not doing too badly:

  • two full collections
  • two anthologies
  • five magazines (am still waaay behind on poetry mag-reading)
  • one On Writing book

Last Saturday, I went to a reading and discussion of poems from Helen Dunmore’s Costa Book Award-winning ‘Inside the Wave’ hosted by members of the Nottingham Poetry Stanza as part of States of Independence (an annual Independent Press Day held at DMU, Leicester).  Having admonished myself for not having purchased and read the collection in advance, I picked up a copy at the Five Leaves Press stand just beforehand.  Six of the poems were read and discussed.  Dunmore’s collection never made it onto my TBR pile.  It demanded cover-to-cover reading; I re-read some poems, annotated themes and recurring images, and reflected on the pragmatism (and the poignancy) in this, Dunmore’s final collection.  I’ve copied some lines into my notebook; from ‘My Life’s Stem was Cut’:

But why not keep flowering
As long as I can
From my cut stem?

and, from ‘Hold Out Your Arms,’ the final poem added to the second impression of the book, in which the poet greets Death like a mother:

As you brush back my hair
– Which could do with a comb
But never mind –
‘We’re nearly there.’

Yesterday, on looking through my TBRs for a Next Read, what did I discover?

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My first purchase has been probably been sitting pretty since I purchased it on publication (and my memory is poorer than I thought).

So, is anyone interested in a poetry giveaway (or a book swap)?  (UK postage, preferably). Let me know in the comments box below (or via social media, if that’s easier for non-Wordpress users).  If I’m inundated with takers, I’ll put names in a hat 🙂

 

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A busy week

I’ve embraced this week’s return to weather conditions approaching Spring.  Monday, spent gardening in the sunshine of our ‘inherited’ back garden, was a real tonic.  I’m still purchasing forced daffodils at the supermarket till but the forsythia outside the kitchen window that spent last week having second thoughts is just about to burst forth.

Poetry reading and writing has been at the forefront this week.  Jen Campbell’s online workshop, Poetry and Fairy Tale, dropped into my email inbox last Sunday so I’ve been reading the material sent for information and inspiration and working on the two assignments: responding to a published poem using fairy tale markers, mulling over drafts of one or two ‘stuck’ poems and writing in new directions.  I’ve got two new poems on simmer and will submit one for workshop feedback ahead of today’s midnight deadline.

On Tuesday morning, there were twenty  of us at the Leicester Writes writers’ meet-up, the first since December so there was much writerly catching up over coffee and a round-up of works-in-progress, successes and diary dates.  It’s such a solitary thing we do that I feel it’s healthy to be part of the wider community of local writers.  And it’s interesting to meet writers in other genres, too.

On Thursday, Mr S and I enjoyed an afternoon at University of Leicester to view a poetry exhibition as part of a programme of events to mark International Women’s Week. I mentioned last week that my poem, ‘Ritual,’ was chosen as one of ten poems displayed on buildings around the campus.  We found mine inside the Astley Clarke building.  I have a shrewd suspicion that mine had to be re-printed due to a misspelling of ‘Jayne’ (that ‘extra’ letter has been the bain of my life!) but hey ho.

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I particularly liked Shruti Chauhan’s ‘Mehndi Night’ and Maria Taylor’s ‘What It Was Like.’  Another twenty-nine poems were available to view in the Digital Reading Room of the David Wilson library, my poem, ‘My Grandmother’s Kitchen,’ among them.

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I was pleased to note that, in total, eight poems were written by six fellow Soundswriters (my local women’s poetry group) and that the poets were not exclusively female.

There was a good vibe on campus; Mr S and I were snapped on Polaroid at the event stand (Polaroid? a throwback to my higher ed days), toting #PressForProgress pledges:

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I’ve just had some more good news: I’ve had a poem accepted for the Truth issue of Popshot magazine, out in May.  This will be my second published poem in this pairing of writers and illustrators: ‘You Do Not Have To Say’ was published in their Wild issue (Oct 2013).  I’m looking forward to seeing the illustrator’s response to my poem.

 

 

 

 

 

Poems with other lives

What a weather week it’s been!  To think that I’d been soaking up the sunlight from my garden chair only the week before.  Despite the frustrations due to road conditions out of our village (missing Kei Miller’s Cultural Xchanges reading at De Montfort University on Wednesday, for one) I did get to try out my hitherto-unused snow tracks for the first time.  And one or two surprise visitors came to the garden in search of food: a couple of fieldfares made short work of  some wizened apples thrown on the ‘lawn’; a small hawk (a kestrel, maybe?) circling overhead as other birds attempted to warn it off.

fieldfare

fieldfare: photo credit goes to RSPB.org.uk (my camera snap is far too shabby!)

Which reminds me (for this is a poetry blog, after all), I’ve been enjoying the DIVERSIFLY podcasts I mentioned here; yesterday I listened to Nadia Kingsley’s conversation with Gillian Clarke, the last in the series.  You’ll find them all on SoundCloud, here.

The Insights tool on my blog informs me that Hygge Poems has received more hits than just about any of my blog posts to date. My poem, ‘Ritual’, inspired by my paternal grandmother’s very strong tea, is one of a series of poems exploring the ‘simple pleasures’ published on Angela Topping’s website (linked via the above).

I’m doubly pleased that ‘Ritual’ has been chosen as one of ten poems to be displayed on buildings at University of Leicester during International Women’s Week..  After a recent call-out, these poems were chosen as best reflecting the diversity, spirit and theme of International Women’s Day 2018: #PressForProgress.  I’m looking forward to discovering its whereabouts on campus when I go along on Thursday.  Hopefully I’ll get to snap it on my phone and share it on social media (you’ll find me on Twitter @stantonjayne) as well as in next Sunday’s blog post.  Another poem, ‘My Grandmother’s Kitchen,’ is one of twenty-nine other poems also on display in the university’s new Digital Reading Room.  I’m looking forward to reading the range of poems chosen as fitting the theme.   Both of the above poems also feature in my pamphlet, Beyond the Tune (2014), still available from Soundswrite Press or (signed, if you like) via the PayPal button on this blog.

In other poetry news, I’m reading at Kenilworth library on the 27th of this month. Andrew Button, who will be reading poems from his recently-launched collection from Erbacce Press, very kindly invited me to read alongside him.  It’s been ages since, so I’m really looking forward to it (I’ll share details nearer the time).

I’ve also been invited to take part in a Poet Interview series over on Bekah Steimel’s blog; Bekah connected with me via the Poetry Blog Revival tour.  My interview will be published in April, which gives me plenty of time to mull over the questions I’ll be addressing (I’m a slow boiler, these days).

Last Sunday I submitted two poems for an anthology in aid of New Start Cat Rescue.   Poems will be selected by Sharon Larkin, who published three of my pamphlet poems, about my father, on Good Dadhood. Both cat poems are previously published; I love it when poems get to lead other lives.