Now that I’ve stashed the Christmas decorations back in the loft, it feels like things are finally back to normal. The end of last year was hectic for all sorts of reasons, and not just because of the festive period.
I was chuffed to see two of my poems (‘Beach-combing’ and ‘Circus’) in the excellent Prole, which boasts possibly the best cover image (a one-eyed cat, taken by Mab Jones) I’ve seen on any poetry mag! As you’d expect from one of the UK’s finest journals, it’s jam-packed with excellent poems and short fiction and I was especially taken by work from (deep breath) Martin Figura, Emma Simon, D A Prince, Jinny Fisher, Stuart Paterson, Ruth Stacey, John Foggin, Robert Nisbet, Keith Hutson and Wendy Pratt.
The great thing about magazines like Prole is that you can read them, put them to one side and then revisit them in years to come, confident of finding more to enjoy each time. Prole also prides itself on publishing work which is accessible – something rather close to my heart!
There are a few more magazines left on my ‘bucket list’, which I hope to be able to tick off this year.
A few poems have appeared on various webzines since my last blog post as well, including Nutshells and Nuggets, The Open Mouse, Jawline Review and Your One Phone Call; my thanks once again to their respective editors.
I also had a poem (Blue Plaques) in Indigo Dreams’ Reach Poetry magazine, which is a really nice monthly publication where the subscribers write in with their votes for their top three poems in each issue and the winners receive a cash prize. I have my fingers crossed for that, especially as I’ll have a poem in each of the next three issues!
And while all of that was happening I was busy putting together the first Clear Poetry Anthology, which was published as a free download just before Christmas. The idea came about from a bit of idle chit-chat on Facebook where a couple of friends were saying that the problem with blogs that publish poetry on a rolling basis (rather than individual issues) is that older posts disappear from view, never to see the light of day again.
To try to remedy that on Clear Poetry, and to celebrate the site’s first anniversary, I combed back through the archives and picked a minimum of one poem from each featured writer. As you can imagine, the selection process took a while, but everyone was quick to give their permission for the work to be used in the book. Messing around with Word files and trying to format them correctly for issuu, PDF and various ebook files took even longer, if I’m honest, and definitely shouldn’t be approached if you’re in any kind of a rush! Happily everything seems to have happened reasonably smoothly and the response has been great – I had a rush of submissions after the book was published with the result that I have some fantastic poems to publish right up until mid-March.
I only wish I had time to produce a print version of the anthology, but that might be something to plan for the 2016 edition – who knows.
Although it’s free to download I would ask anyone who reads it to donate a sum of their choosing to their favourite charity.
Of course, much of my focus this year is going to be on my pamphlet, Communing, which is being published by the lovely Dawn and Ronnie at Indigo Dreams. I’ve been working my way through the proofs, which are looking great, and I’m very proud of it overall. I am expecting it to be available in Spring and I’ve already got at least one promotional reading in the diary, at Cheltenham Poetry Festival on Thursday 12th May as part of an Indigo Dreams showcase which includes my ‘stablemates’ (!) Chrys Salt, Deborah Harvey and festival founder Anna Saunders. If you run a regular poetry event within, say, 100 miles of Bristol and think my work might fit in nicely then do please get in touch.
In terms of writing new material, I’ve taken the plunge again and started working my way through Jo’s 52 prompts, which recently came out in workbook form via the ever-brilliant Nine Arches Press. I’d recommend anyone with an interest in writing poetry to grab a copy, whether you’ve published half a dozen collections or you’re just taking your first tentative steps. It’ll force you to write about all manner of subjects which you might never consider approaching, and each weekly prompt is illustrated with a couple of intriguing poems to start you off.
If you decide to give it a whirl, though, finding a way of discussing the results with others – the Facebook element of 52, where we all posted poems for critique and friendly comment, was perhaps the key to its success.
Finally, I have a few more poems due out in various publications this year, including Lunar Poetry, The Journal, Reach Poetry, The Dawntreader and the wonderful Yellow Chair Review. As usual, I’ve been submitting to a wide range of print and online mags so I hope to be able to update the blog soon with news of other acceptances.