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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!

Buses

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  🙂

I’ve been experimenting with Haiku recently, a fascinating art form originally created by Japanese poets.

haikus

Essentially Haiku are short poems (fitting with my poetic style perfectly!) that use sensory language to capture a feeling or image.  Often inspired by nature, beauty or a poignant experience, traditional Haiku employs a five-seven-five syllable line count separated by a ‘cut’.  This creates two parts in the poem, with the final line bearing some comment or reference to the statement made by the first two.  And it’s amazing just how much you can pack into such a small space!  I love this technique, developing snapshots of time, place and feeling.   The challenge for me has not been the succinctness but the objectivity – describing without interpretation or analysis, in other words ‘you’ stay away, something often alien to a poet…

However, it has clearly paid off (literally!) as I was delighted to wake up this morning (being 10 and a half hours ahead of the UK) to the news of winning the Little ms February Haiku competition!

little ms

Little ms is Mslexia‘s monthly e-newsletter packed full of inspiration, snippets, quotes, forthcoming calls and comps, and general literary entertainment that I look forward to receiving in my inbox.  February’s topic was hypnotise, and my Haiku was inspired by a large brown snake we saw at the side of the road on our drive to the Flinders Ranges, that was actually reared up and hissing at the traffic, as if it was angry it couldn’t cross!  So thank you Mslexia, for the boost to continue with my Haiku!

We all write differently, not just in what we do but how we do it.  And I’m always really interested to hear how other people write – what tools they use, do they have a favourite place or dedicated space, what conditions they favour, etc.  I’m actually part of an online group in the London Poetry School called A Room of One’s Own, which is all about this very topic, and where we can post pics of our places.  This is mine…

 

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Living down under I basically follow the sun, which starts in the front room of our house and then gradually moves round to the back.  So first thing in the morning, this is just perfect.  I tend to draft my poems initially in pencil in one of  many patterned notebooks, sometimes leaving it for a while, could be hours, days, weeks depending on how it ‘feels’ before typing it up on my laptop.  I always carry a smaller notebook (the above are A5 size) and pen wherever I go in case inspiration hits me, or I hear, see, smell something that evokes a feeling or memory.

Over the new year, I also took the time to organise my filing system so now have different coloured folders for my published work and correspondence, pending submissions, both to do and hear back from, and the draft of my first collection I’m working on (this was the perfect excuse to wander around many a stationery store, something I love to do, leaving the husband at home of course!)  I used to be religious in recording my submissions, i.e. what has been sent to whom and when, etc., but then got lazy, which often happens with me I’m afraid.  Now with my new Mslexia Writer’s Diary there is no excuse as it contains space for such records, and I’ve even got into the habit of noting what I need to do every Friday, my dedicated writing day and one of the reasons I went part time at work.

So there you have it.  My ideal place to write would be in a small but bright room filled with all things poetry and an interesting view, be it ocean, countryside or mountains (mine is currently our driveway).  Working on this too!

With the beginning of a new year, I thought it would be a good time to review 2014 and take a look at some of the things I have achieved with my writing.

Review

Producing a short film for my poem

Being one of the winners of mindshare’s When words come to life poetry competition and given the opportunity to create a short video clip to accompany my piece was a most interesting experience. I learnt a great deal about storyboarding poems using impact, music, breath and movement, as well as finding that place you have to get to when reading aloud. And I made some good friends along the way, all of whom have either been impacted by or are involved in mental health.

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Breaking into the US market

Having been published in the UK, Australia and Canada, it was wonderful to be accepted into a journal published out of Maine in the US to add to the compliment of continents. The Aurorean was a journal I’d had my eye for a while due to the quality of work it publishes and the awards it has won. I can now be defined as an international poet – long may it continue!

Submitting a draft of my first collection

Having some time off work recently gave me the opportunity to finally develop a first draft of my first collection. Not as easy as you originally think and very all-consuming, but with the help of a course I took with Pascale Petit at the Poetry School and some words of wisdom from Kim Moore on how she did it, I managed to create a fairly cohesive submission that has been sent off to a publisher in London. Let’s see what happens!

What to focus on in 2015

I will continue to submit to magazines and journals but perhaps be more selective, and take a step back from the competitions. I must make more of an effort to attend literary events and readings to network, and keep up with what’s happening on the local poetry scene. And in an attempt to be more organised, I’ve treated myself to the Mslexia 2015 Writer’s Diary, an invaluable resource that I’m wondering how I did without really. If anything comes from my first collection submission then that will take up a large chunk of my time to develop further and fine-tune. I also received news just before Christmas that some of my work has been accepted by a very reputable webzine in the UK run by one of my favourite poets, but more about that shortly.

So here’s to another 12 months of poetry success. A happy new year to you all, keep writing  🙂

I have just finished reading a wonderful book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  I don’t normally blog about books, but with this I just have to.

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The story begins as a simple one – Harold, the central character, leaves home to post a reply to a letter he has received from an old friend who is dying from cancer.  And then decides to hand deliver it, some 627 miles and 87 days later.   I think what I particularly liked was a certain “return to nature” perspective, a stripping away of life’s paraphernalia, with his impromptu decision leaving Harold to walk without map, mobile or even decent walking shoes.  His journey describes the simplest of things – the way the landscape changes under sun and starlit skies, the colours, the smells, the feelings it awakens, and of course with all this time on his hands and little distraction, Harold begins to look back on his life with each step he takes forward – the memory of his mother, his father’s brazen behaviour, the times spent with his son, his wife, the many regrets.

It’s the kind of book that makes you think, to look inward, maybe even examine your own path you have followed to be where you are now.  And it is the first book in a long time that has made me cry!  There is one very poignant scene described in such an emotive yet simple way, it makes me waver now to just think about it.

So if you haven’t read it yet or are looking for a last minute stocking filler, I can’t recommend this book enough.  Merry Christmas folks  🙂

Apart from reading, and reading widely, another good tip for a poet is to subscribe to some poetry journals and writing magazines, to also help keep them appraised of the latest events in the literary world.  I currently subscribe to seven publications, a mixture of pure poetry, book reviews and general writing, one of which is Mslexia.

 

Mslexia logo

 

This magazine, published out of Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK, prides itself on being an ambassador for women’s writing, to get their voices heard in what can still be construed as a rather male-dominated field.  An interesting article in the current issue focuses on ‘bestselling poets’, with only three in the top ten prime sellers actually being alive at the moment.

Not surprisingly Carol Ann Duffy tops the charts, with an increase in her sales income on last year by just under £20,000 to £195,992.  I love Duffy’s work, the rawness and reality of it, two of my favourite pieces being from her collection of Love Poems, ‘Drunk’ and ‘Valentine’, in which she picks you up and makes you ‘be’ in the scene with her.

There’s an even split in the top ten in respect of gender, which includes the likes of Heaney, Plath and Armitage, and the piece reminds us that the poet’s income is a mere ‘pittance’ compared to the bestsellers in other genres, giving the example of historical fiction queen Philippa Gregory who earned close to £1 million this year.

 

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And so it ends with the advice of don’t give up the day job, which is all too true.  I have been lucky enough financially to be able to reduce my working hours for the first time in my life to focus purely on my poetry but yes, poets face an interesting challenge – to dream in a realist world.

Being published that is, and I am just thrilled as they are two of my favourite poems!

 

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The first piece called ‘Instinct’ appears in the November issue of Transnational Literature, an international e-journal published twice a year out of the Flinders Institute for Research in the Humanities at Flinders University.  Edited by Gillian Dooley with the poetry section by Heather Taylor Johnson, the journal is fully refereed with an internationally-based advisory board that seek a selection of cross-cultural pieces, be they poetry, prose or articles.  The poetry in this particular issue has a Scottish theme with guest poetry editor Alison Flett covering for Heather while she is overseas researching her next book.

 

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The second poem published this week, ‘Offspring‘, was in Uneven Floor, an independent poetry magazine operating out of Perth, Western Australia edited by Jackson.  Aiming to publish one or two individual poems every fortnight with a focus on poets from Western Australia, I was particularly impressed by the calibre and diversity of the content when I discovered this outlet via Australian Poetry, as well as instantly warming to the frank, no-nonsense style in what the editor looks for and what he definitely doesn’t.

So yes, I am one ecstatic poet at present, let’s see what else I can do…   🙂

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a piece accepted for the fall/winter issue of the Aurorean poetry journal published by Encircle Publications.  Well, it’s out now!

Fall Winter 2014 2015 Aurorean

 

Contributors receive a free copy, plus a special discount on further copies purchased, so I’m really looking forward to mine arriving, which I anticipate taking a little longer considering the distance needed to travel!

It’s well known that on the whole, poetry doesn’t pay.  However, like many other poets I don’t write to earn and when you think about it, “pay” has many connotations.  I still get a thrill from seeing my work and name in print so this is the value for me.  And when you couple that with contributor copies and the publicity provided, I feel that’s a pretty good deal, don’t you…?    🙂

The Aurorean is a biannual poetry journal published in April and October out of Maine in the US by Encircle Publications.

 

The Aurorean

 

Its 60 plus pages offer a variety of form and content from poets all over the world, with a focus on New England and the seasons, and includes a wonderful selection of Haiku. Having won several small press awards, the journal publishes work that “uplifts, inspires, and is meditational”, a refreshing perspective “in a world full of angst”.

Editor Cynthia Brackett-Vincent kindly accepted some of my work recently to appear in their forthcoming Fall/Winter issue due out next month.  I was excited by this news, not least by the thought that my work will appear in this beautifully presented and prestigious journal but also, and to quote one of my literary friends, I have now “cracked the US market!”  So only 3 more continents to go, as I’m discounting Antarctica unless their definition of penguin has changed…

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