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Delighted to have a poem here, a thought-provoking collection pulled together by Nina Lewis, the new Worcestershire Poet Laureate

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/world-refugee-day-in-poetry/

Mind the gap: reading what isn’t there – http://wp.me/p9CkI-1tO

With National Poetry Day around the corner (Wednesday 6 October), I want to share a couple of thought-provoking quotes I’ve discovered recently through my poetry groups.

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It’s often very easy for a poet to ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’ in their work, so this from Anton Chekhov is a beautiful reminder:

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Chekhov was a 19th century Russian playwright and short story writer, who had a unique talent of that time to recreate and express what it means to be human.  So I’ve printed this out in fancy writing and stuck it to our fridge to remind me every time I get milk, juice, wine, etc. to show and not tell.

Another quote to catch my attention was the following by Francis Ponge, speaking about poetry:

“You have first of all to side with your own spirit, and your own taste. Then take the time, and have the courage, to express all your thoughts on the subject at hand (not just keeping the expressions that seem brilliant or distinctive). Finally you have to say everything simply, not striving for charm, but conviction.”

Ponge was a 20th century French essayist and poet heavily influenced by surrealism, who developed a prose poem form which meticulously examined everyday objects.  I like the self-exploration in this, the hunt to find a different angle from which to engage the reader.

As a poet I’m continually learning, developing and honing my skills, and participating in workshops, groups and courses is a fundamental way to do this.  In addition to reading, editing, researching, experimenting, critiquing, sharing…you get the drift.

Being a public holiday here last weekend we went to Robe, a pretty coastal town in our state that we’d visited before but only briefly, hence the return trip to explore further.

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We weren’t sure what the weather had in store for us, having left in one of the worst storms on record for Adelaide, flooding roads and washing out traffic lights, so we wanted to be prepared for any rainy days when we could be room-bound.

So after much thought, I opted to take a notebook (a Paperblanks, one of my favourite kinds) and a pencil over a tablet and book. Risky?! But it paid off, big time. I managed to write seven, yes seven, new poems, albeit not publishable at present but getting there, and it felt good scribbling raw, something I hadn’t done for a while. So here’s my advice – go back to basics when travelling, the old-fashioned way, but then with vistas like these…

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what poet wouldn’t be inspired!

Well I saw the new year in with some of my favourite people…poets! And what better way to celebrate than with a chilled glass of wine (or three) and yummy food under a canopy of vine leaves in a beautiful home in the Adelaide Hills. Perfect.

And sticking with tradition, we were each asked to share achievements from the old year and aspirations for the new, which got me thinking…

2015

So looking back at the last 12 months, one major success stands out – the publication of my first collection – yay me! I must admit I’m rather proud of it and love catching a glimpse of it in our bookcase.

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Being guest poet at Hills Poets is another memorable experience, aswell as reading at Lee Marvin alongside the greats (fingers crossed I get invited back!).

This blog has also proved it’s worth, with views from here, the UK and US – all 2,300 of them (is that any good?) – with the most popular post being my launch in pictures peaking at 95 views.

So going back to publishing, with acceptances inevitably come rejections, and looking at the stats I think I’ve had more than my fair share:

  • 23 rejections across journals, magazines and anthologies
  • 7 acceptances predominantly in journals and magazines both in print and online

There’s a ratio in there somewhere – and I don’t think it would look too good!

2016

So looking forwards, what’s on my agenda for this year?

I have a couple of ideas for further collections – one full length and the other possibly another chapbook, we’ll see.

And among the rejections are a few poetry journals and magazines I really want to appear in, namely RABBIT, Cordite and Mslexia, so plan to keep on improving and just keep on trying.

A longer term ambition is to get a room of my own for writing. Having stayed last night at a fellow poet’s house complete with study and writer’s cottage, it would be absolutely wonderful to have a space just for poetry – with books lining the walls, my writing journals piled on the desk, a view, inspirational photos, snippets, notes, etc…alas still a dream for the time being. One day 🙂

 

not to blog about, literally! A huge parcel greeted me when I got home from work today and inside, this!

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My runner’s up prize for my poem, ‘Great grandma’s house’, appearing in the July edition of Writers’ Forum. I put the pen there to demonstrate its size, all 1114 pages of it to hold 420,000 synonyms and antonyms. Wow! And it’s packed full of little extras too, my favourite being a section called The World Lover’s Gallimaufry (now there’s a new word!), which has useful tidbits like 30 words to sound more posh, e.g. ‘frightfully’ and ‘awfully’, and 23 words and phrases to avoid in politics, such as ‘big society’ and ‘fit for purpose’. And then did you know there are 19 ways to tell someone to hurry up and 15 ways to express enthusiasm?! The best though is 40 words to use to sound more poetic – ‘daystar’ (the sun), ‘fuliginous’ (sooty) and ‘periculous’ (dangerous). Think I’ll be slipping some of those into conversation.

So a huge thank you Sue Butler, poetry editor of the monthly magazine, for publishing my poem and for this fifty pounds worth of thesaurus, which at 2.2kg couldn’t have been cheap to send to the other side of the world. I am ‘agrin’ (the act of grinning).

So I finally got round to reading a couple of the writing magazines I subscribe to and reaching p.52 of Writers’ Forum, nearly choked on the tipple I was drinking! (a glass of chilled Nepenthe, very nice).

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How fab is this, what a wonderful surprise! This is a poem I work-shopped during the Poetry School’s online feedback course I took part in recently hosted by Catherine Smith, which I then submitted to Sue Butler, the poetry editor of the magazine, a few months ago.

Writers’ Forum is an interesting read. Published every month out of Bournemouth in the UK, it’s essentially a toolkit for writers, full of articles, tips and reviews to help you along. The deadline for the poetry competition is the 15th of each month and with no entry fee and prizes to be won, I’m sure Sue gets inundated with submissions. So again a little bit pleased, got my happy dance perfected!

That’s the number of poems I’ve had published, or will have very soon thanks to an online literary journal based in Dublin called The Burning Bush 2, who recently told me they would like to use some of my work in their next issue!

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So 30…is this good or bad? Or just plain mediocre? I actually think it’s not too bad considering I’ve never had a collection published, and the spread is across a variety of journals, magazines, both in print and online, anthologies, competitions, with even one turned into a short film. And they’ve crossed the Pacific and Atlantic, and back again to cover three continents. It could be higher, but it’s a good solid number to grow and become more me thinks.

And then reading an update by fellow poet Abegail Morley about her forthcoming collection, The Skin Diary, being published by Nine Arches Press next year, has kick-started me again to return to my own collection I’m currently putting together. It will only be pamphlet-size to be sent to a publisher in Australia with a current call out for such work. So we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, I’ll pocket my 30 and raise you

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And both made an impact!  Poems that is, in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2014.  I’m a little bit pleased to say the least!

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The Sentinel Poetry Movement (SPM) was founded in 2002 by Nnorom Azuonye, a poet amongst other trades, with a purpose to create a diverse community of writers and artists encouraging limitless interaction.  The movement also branched into publishing, producing online magazines such as Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Sentinel Poetry Quarterly and Sentinel Champions, however sadly the latter publication will no longer be after the current issue.  So in effect it runs competitions for short stories and poetry every three months and every 12.

Roger Elkin, poet, tutor, editor and literary advisor, has adjudicated this particular competition for five years.  SPM recently interviewed Roger to find out what makes him tick and the work he’s currently involved in – it’s an interesting read.  And funnily enough Roger also selected one of my poems, The cut, reproduced here on my site, for Sentinel Champions #9 published in 2012.  So I must be doing something he likes!  Thank you Roger

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you wait and wait, and then there’s more than one!

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Ink, Sweat & Tears (IS&T) is a UK-based webzine run by Helen Ivory, an amazing poet with a path of wonderful work, my favourite collection being her most recent, Waiting for Bluebeard published by Bloodaxe Books.  I’ve also participated in an online course hosted by Helen a few years ago through the Poetry SchoolTransformation and Magic I believe it was called – that encouraged students to think about the more fantastical side of poetry, letting the imagination go forth and then some.

Anyway, IS&T is a coveted place to be, so I was thrilled when I found out Helen wanted to publish some of my work on her site, which went live on Friday.  This is actually one of my favourite poems (us poets all have them) so I’m really pleased it’s out there being shined on.  Happy days  🙂