One of the biggest privileges in taking part in the 52 Project was making friends with so many fantastic poets, all at different stages of their development as writers.
Carole Bromley is a very talented writer and her new collection, The Stonegate Devil, is due out from smith|doorstep in October. She was one of the first people to submit poems to my fledgling Clear Poetry just before Christmas and her thoughtful comments on the poems I posted online as part of 52 showed what a generous and insightful editor she is.
I started following Carole’s poetry blog on YorkMix early in 2014 and found it to be an excellent place for inspiration. Carole generally posts an initial prompt and invites readers to submit their resulting work for publication on the site. I had been meaning to send her something but the most recent prompt, asking for poems about summer, came at just the right time.
My “Auntie” June was really my second cousin once removed (so my grandmother’s cousin’s daughter – keep up!) but we were very close. She had lived in the same house in the Small Heath area of Birmingham since she was a little girl, sharing it with her mother, for whom she cared in later years, as well as her husband Len, one of the gentlest and kindest men you could wish to meet. Sadly, after Len died ten years ago and then more recently when my mum passed away, June began to give up on life and although she was still a regular at our family get-togethers (my twins Daisy and Jack were very fond of her) she gradually lost her sparkle and passed away in late August.
My poem, “Wake”, deals with the incongruity of attending a funeral in the middle of Summer, but also reflects on June’s popularity with everyone in the street where she lived. Small Heath is one of the most culturally diverse areas in the UK, but she always seemed to connect with people on a very simple (and often direct!) level and she was known locally as “Auntie June”. She also took in a lot of stray cats, who gleefully ripped up her wallpaper with their claws.
Anyway, you can read the poem at http://www.yorkmix.com/things-to-do/poetry-blog-a-last-lingering-look-at-summer/ and there are lots of other poems on there by some really good writers. The blog is a very personal affair – Carole introduces each poem and points out things she likes so it’s a really enjoyable read.
I thought I’d also use this update to give a roundup on my other news – there’s plenty of it!
- Firstly, and perhaps best of all, my debut pamphlet (Communing) will be published by Indigo Dreams next year. Those who have read my blog before will know that Dawn and Ronnie have been very supportive of my writing and it was Dawn who suggested that I might like to collect some of my poems in a book. I sent the manuscript to a few poet friends who I knew would be able to give me constructive comments and they really came up trumps; I think every one of the 20 poems in the final version was improved in some way by their suggestions. There’s no firm release date for the book yet but watch this space!
- Two of my poems will feature in issue 60 of The Interpreter’s House, which is due out imminently – I’m so happy to see my work in this excellent magazine, which is on most poets’ bucket lists!
- I had four poems accepted by Lunar Poetry, another excellent printed magazine, in January although the editor has been very busy getting ready to open London’s only dedicated poetry bookshop so he can be excused the delay! A double issue is (I think) planned in October/November.
- One of my poems will appear in this year’s edition of Simon Williams and Susan Taylor’s innovative The Broadsheet and I’m hoping to get down to read at the launch event on 05/10/15, which forms part of Exeter Poetry Festival. I’m especially pleased to be included because the journal is only open to writers living in the South West, and of course I know Simon and Susan from 52.
- Poet and illustrator Dru Marland (also a 52er) has chosen a poem I wrote inspired by one of her beautiful watercolours for the frontispiece of Hailing Foxes, a stunning new pamphlet showcasing writing from West Country poets alongside her wonderful artwork. I’ll be reading at the launch event in Bristol on 29/09/15.
- One of my poems has been accepted by Los Angeles-based (yes – LA, baby!) Silver Birch Press for When I Hear That Song a web-based series of poetry and flash fiction in October inspired by specific songs. I understand it might also come out in print format if it’s a success.
- Indigo Dreams will also be publishing more of my work in their Sarasvati and The Dawntreader quarterly magazines.
- Three of my poems will appear at regular intervals in late October and November on webzine Your One Phonecall
That’s about it for now – I’ll post more as and when each of the above poems come out and also giving gory details of the two launches I’m hoping to attend.