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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Happy Anniversary or Product versus Process

It’s gone 11 AM.
I’m still in my PJs after a late breakfast.
Web browsing from email notifications, I’m distracted –
by the arrival of the post (it keeps later mornings than I do, these days…):
a jiffy envelope containing a poetry pamphlet;
there’s a poem on its front cover…

And so my (relatively) work-free days speed by!

This morning, WordPress.com wishes me a  Happy Anniversary.  Apparently, it’s exactly 6 years since I registered and moved here from another popular free site.  I’m not sure it’s cause for celebration – after all, my infrequent blog posts mean it’s been a rather on-off relationship.  147 posts over 6 years (you can do the maths – it’s not my forte).

Lately I’ve been thinking – this:
– about a lack of poem output – finished poems, that is (except they hardly ever are – even the published ones – right?).
– except I have been writing (yes?):

  • interesting words gleaned/heard
  • quotes from other writers/from poems, novels, short stories and articles I’ve read
  • anything from a few lines to a few pages of free writing
  • responses to writing prompts
  • writing for the sake of writing something (anything) new
  • writing out of fear – that I’ll never again write anything worth reading…

– and I’m continually re-drafting poems in that sub folder ‘Work in Progress’
– and when I’m not writing, I’m reading (which is most of the time)
– and I’m reading so that I can write (right?)

And my latest realisations are:
– that I’ve allowed myself to become preoccupied with Product rather than Process
– that I probably ‘produce’ more new writing now than I ever have
– that writing, like any art, requires many hours of practice – and practice is Process
– that the art of writing is probably 99% Process and 1% Product

Anthony Wilson articulated exactly this in his latest #NaBloPoMo post:

A new feeling…not about [books and fame] but about the very opposite of those things, the actual process of writing.

and how this has changed his feelings about his writing:

Now I had let go of my grand designs I began to see my writing differently…a thing of joy…to be relished and played with…that sense of amazing possibility, that sense of ‘Why not…?’ and ‘What if…?’

And what of all my new writing that exists across several notebooks?  Each time I look back at what I’ve written (much of it done in that magical time between semi-wakefulness and sleep – I’m not a morning person) I’m surprised into ‘Did I really write this?’ and  ‘Where did it come from?’

Anthony also writes about discovering some scraps of his writing after a tidy up:

I had no memory of writing the words I was reading.  They felt foreign, as though another writer with my handwriting had entered the house at night and forged my hand.  I read the words but did not understand them.  Something in me began to stir…

I read this and said ‘Yes! That’s it!’  The distance put between Writer and Writing becomes the catalyst; across the gap, a spark.