It’s the Winter Solstice – 21st December – as I begin to write this, as deep into winter as you can get before the pendulum swings back towards the light of spring. This year has been another strange one, often challenging, heartbreaking, joyous. We’ve welcomed new members to the family and sadly bade others farewell.
On the whole, I’d say it’s been a good year for me in the literary world. My new online journal, Black Nore Review, launched in January and has been quietly gathering a following ever since. I’ve enjoyed receiving a sensible level of submissions and seeing reaction to those pieces I accept and publish online. I’m still letting it grow organically without really pushing it too much via social media, although at times I’ve had to bang the gong when submissions have actually dried up entirely! Quite a welcome novelty.
In terms of my own work, I loved doing readings from Hi-Viz in Newport, Weston-super-Mare and Bristol. My personal highlight was at Under the Red Guitar at El Rincón in Southville, which is a fairly new monthly event run by Bob Walton and Lizzie Parker. The venue, a lovely little tapas bar on trendy North Street, was sold out and I read for a warm and appreciative audience which included lots of people I know from the local poetry scene as well as my mate Dan (aka Wind-up Bird Man), whose daughter Harriet is best friends with Daisy and who is an excellent and really inventive musician.
It was also great to finally perform at Sarah Dixon’s Quiet Compere reading in Bristol, which boasted a brilliant line-up. Sarah had been trying to get a Bristol gig off the ground for a good few years but with COVID restrictions lifted it was so good to catch up with lots of people I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic, as well as meeting people face to face that I’ve only known through social media. You can read more about the event here.
I’m on the lookout for more gigs in 2023 and beyond, so do please get in touch if you’d like me to come and read for you. As well as getting a real thrill from performing my work, it is a much-needed opportunity to sell copies of the book. To be honest, I have been disappointed by the number of sales so far, but I am hoping that this might improve in the New Year.
Likewise, if you would like to review my latest collection, do please drop me a line.
These days my writing habits have settled into two very intense periods in the months of April and September, when Simon Williams’ excellent Poem a Day group on Facebook is active. Outside of that, I just don’t seem to find much impetus to produce new writing, although that’s not really a complaint as each of those periods usually generates 15-20 poems that are worth keeping. Any ideas I have get jotted down on my Google Drive which I sometimes use as prompts when I’m trying to think of subjects for my daily poems!
In terms of publications in 2022, one of my poems (“Scottish Tenner”) appeared in a beautifully produced hardback Grist anthology called We’re All In It Together – Poems for a disUnited Kingdom (eds. Michael Stewart, Steve Ely & Kayleigh Campbell) alongside some familiar names (Suna Afshan, Gerry Cambridge, Ian Duhig, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Joelle Taylor and Rory Waterman to name just a few). It’s a very varied selection of contemporary work which reflects the state of the UK, post-Brexit and with a seemingly inevitable Scottish referendum and the question of Welsh independence very much in the nation’s consciousness.
It was also fantastic to have three poems accepted by co-editor Penny Sharman for Obsessed with Pipework’s milestone 100th issue. How founding editor Charles Johnson has kept it going all these years is beyond me, although I think the mission statement that the poems all must have “strangeness and charm” might have played a part in the magazine’s longevity!
I’ve also had poems in The High Window, Dear Reader, The Lake Poetry and South. More info can be found on my Published Work page.
I’m not really one for making New Year’s resolutions but I would love to write more regularly. Here’s hoping that 2023 will allow me plenty of time and motivation to put pen to paper (or more accurately fingers to keys!).