On much ado and doing nothing much

I do my best to keep abreast of current affairs in the small world of poetry.  This week I’ve spent not a little time reading Rebecca Watts’ PN Review article and  various responses to it, from Hollie McNish’s prompt and proactive one (if Watts attempted to hang her victim using the poet-in-question’s previous remarks on the quality of her own work, the latter acquitted herself well and with dignity) through Helen Mort’s (concise; bang on) to @Mslexia’s Twitter poll (overly simplistic, inciting further polarity).

(Personal opinions in brackets).

I’ve recently read a couple of collections that weren’t to my taste. And that’s fine with me.  I embrace the breadth of style, form, subject and media of contemporary poetry whilst acknowledging that the world would be a boring place if we all shared the same tastes and views.  But then I’m not a reviewer.  Nor am I the Reviews Editor of an ‘august’ poetry journal.

Here’s a selection of collections/pamphlets I’ve enjoyed lately (in reading order only):


I purchased four of them following live readings by the respective poets; of these, I’ve enjoyed previous publications by one poet and look forward to reading further work by the other three – and although one received a rather scathing review by a popular online reviewer, I loved its lyrical poems; the other two I ordered online as soon as they were published, as I do any publication by my favourite poets.

I didn’t set out to write any more than a brief comment on this week’s furore.  I am, however, intent on growing my blog, beginning with blogging weekly (on Sundays).  I’m pleased, therefore, that my teeny tiny blog has attracted a few new readers and followers via the 2018 Revival Tour list of weekly bloggers, so thank you for dropping by, if you’re one of them!

Some weeks, a blog post is the only writing I manage.  I am more than a little perturbed at how days turn into weeks of doing ‘nothing much’ now that a day job no longer lays claim to my time.  Instead, any number of new and customary displacement activities present themselves (the subject of another post, maybe).  And another curveball (life, eh).

Whether the writing’s happening or not, I remain on the lookout for suitable homes for those ‘finished’ poems not currently submitted anywhere.  I’ve recently sent off two poems to a themed magazine that published one of mine a few years ago, and entered one poem for an ‘auspicious’ poetry prize (this poem has no ‘previous’; it fitted the theme).  I find that I like the level playing field of poetry competitions more and more. Robin Houghton’s latest post poses some valid considerations, whether you’re a frequent or reticent entrant to poetry competitions.

Whatever you’re writing and/or reading this week, enjoy x




A submission bears fruit


Hot on the heels of a published poem in issue 66 of The Interpreter’s House comes an acceptance for the DIVERSIFLY anthology: Everyday Encounters with the Birds of Britain’s Towns and Cities – in Poetry & Art.  Edited by Nadia Kingsley, it will be published in January 2018 by Fair Acre Press.  Mine’s a wee poem (like its subject) but I’m thrilled nevertheless.

Submissions still viable:

  • 5 unpublished poems to a poetry magazine, via Submittable, in early June are now ‘In-Progress.’ – since 24th October, in fact – I took to checking daily.  (Online submission portals are great, but the trackable status of active submissions serve to highlight the waiting time between ‘Received’ and ‘In-Progress’ (and from thence to ‘Declined’ or ‘Accepted’).
  • 4 previously-published poems (3 plus 1) for 2 themed anthologies, to be published by the same small press.  (The proposed response dates for these have stretched, over time, from September to November).
  • 2 previously-published poems submitted (last year?  the year before?  I forget) to Poetry in the Waiting Room.  I’d be seriously chuffed if either one of ’em gets to grace an NHS waiting room at some point in the future.  ‘Nothing ventured…’, right?
  • 1 poem entered for a themed poetry competition.  I saw (a Facebook link to the announcement on Write Out Loud), I read (the theme, the rules) I entered (I had a poem ready for submission that I reckon fits the theme well).  I like the level playing field of competitions.  And ‘you have to be in it…’, right?
  • I still have high hopes for one particular poem recently returned from my TIH #66 submission. I’ll send it out again without any re-drafting (not sure where, yet). 

I’m having second thoughts about a few poems that have been around the houses (including TIH).  I’ll re-draft them before re-submission.  Or they may end up consigned to Unfinished or Dubious – sub folders where the unviable languish.  But there are some NaPoWriMo poems that have lain dormant for months and are ripe for nurturing.  


January musings

After the slowing down, home and family focus and general introspection that constituted my Christmas break, I did wonder if I’d ever get back up to speed for the start of the school spring term.  But I did.  And January is more than halfway through already.  Scary.

In my final blog post for 2014 I stated that I no longer make new year resolutions.  That’s not strictly true; they exist as aspirations rather than targets; they’re in my head (I feel for them, poor blighters) and they are probably what drive me, although my compulsive/all-or-nothing nature means that I fail miserably at maintaining any kind of balance in my work-free life (cue nods and much rolling of eyes from those who know me).

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Josephine Corcoran’s early December blog post, Setting Yourself Goals, reminded me of a bucket list I made just after my 50th birthday:

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I went as far as to purchase a Paperchase scrap book in which to map my achievements.  I printed off some motivational web images, too:

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Although I stuffed a few photographs and photocopies between its covers for a while, I then forgot about it – the scrap book, that is.  The list lives on, though, and I have made progress towards, and, in one or two cases, achieved goals:

1) ‘Achieve job satisfaction’: I returned to teaching in 2008-2009 and became an accredited Reading Recover teacher and taught in 3 Leicester city schools.  I now have a wider role (Reading Champion/reading interventions) and work three full days instead of five mornings.  2) ‘Become a published poet’: I had my first poems published in spring 2009.  And there have been more.  And my debut pamphlet last year.  3) ‘Win a poetry competition’: well, I was seriously chuffed to receive a Highly Commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue competition and a poem long-listed in the Desmond O’Grady competition, both in 2013.  4) ‘Create an easy-maintainance garden’: I must give credit, here, to the many hours of paid-for-by-the-hour labour involving weed-suppressing membrane, several tonnes of gravel and a serious plant cull. There’s more on the list, but I won’t bore you with the ups and downs of my yoyo dieting lifestyle(!)  Interesting, too, that music doesn’t feature.  And my dormant family history research?  That may just have to wait until I retire…