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pays. So far this year, I’ve had two poems accepted by two magazines I’ve been trying to get into for ages. Years in fact. Happy just isn’t the word!

The first one is Magma, a UK-based magazine publishing three themed issues a year, each with a different editor. The theme of the issue my poem will appear in is ‘Work’ due out next month, and was inspired by a bee colony that took refuge on the side of the building where I work while it scouted for a new home. I took the draft to one of my poetry groups and half-hardheartedly included it in the suite of poems I submitted. When told it had been longlisted late last year I was thrilled, as this was the furthest any of my poems had got with Magma. So, you can imagine my reaction when it made the final cut.

The second publication is Cordite, an online magazine here in Australia based in Victoria. Like Magma, Cordite has themed issues, with the occasional no-theme one, and a different editor each time. My poem, ‘Every other Friday’, appeared in the ‘Monster’ issue edited by Nathan Curnow this month and was published on my brother’s birthday, which was apt seeing as he featured in it. This is quite an old poem that I wrote back when we were living in London and again, I included it in my submission on the off-chance it might resonate. It did.

So, is this luck, timing or perseverance? I think all three. Poetry is incredibly subjective and what one editor disregards, another selects. I remember a blog by Kim Moore, a UK-based poet, who shared her experience of finally getting into The Rialto. The message is, never give up.  And the irony is, I’m appearing in the next issue of Mslexia, another magazine I’ve been trying to get into for years, albeit with one sentence about this very thing.

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  🙂

Having recently received three rejections in a row from three different magazines/journals, an element of self-doubt can start to creep in – what am I doing wrong, how can the poems be improved, am I wasting my time, etc. Successes are wonderful, celebrated and then filed but maybe its human nature to dwell that bit longer on failure and make it personal.

frog

During my period of procrastination, I remembered a recent essay Kim Moore wrote during her digital residence with the Poetry School, where she describes her path to publication along with some practical hints and tips she learned along the way. But what I found really interesting (and somewhat reassuring!), is the overlap between the lists of magazines Kim’s work has been accepted in and rejected by (have duplicated it below for ease):

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There are particular magazines and journals I would love to get into, a few of which are on Kim’s list, so the message here is clearly one of perseverance!

Kim also went onto say that one of her poems was rejected 13 times before being accepted as part of a collection, and then went on to win an award in its own right.

So if you’re like me and have some work that you feel does have a certain something but just keeps coming back (a boomerang springs to mind!) don’t despair, it may just be a case of it finding its home.

When I lived in London I participated in a few Poetry School courses, including a workshop with Pascale Petit and an online course facilitated by Helen Ivory.

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Last week the school hosted their first Digital Open Day via CAMPUS, a social network for poets.  I signed up to participate in a couple of their live Q&A chats but unfortunately, due to some technical issues our end plus the time difference, was not able to be actively involved.

However, following each event transcripts were posted on the site for group members to access so I was able to catch up on what I missed.  The live session Path to a First Collection provided a real insight into the heads of prestigious editors – Neil Astley of Bloodaxe Books (also see Jo Bell’s latest blog) and Amy Wack of Seren – and poets – Kim Moore and Hannah Lowe.  Neil and Amy explained what they look for in a submission to grab (and hold) their attention, whereas Kim and Hannah’s perspective was from the submitter and the arduous task of fine-tuning their work before sending it in.  It is an invaluable read for anyone making steps to putting their initial manuscript together, be it a full length or pamphlet collection.

Kim Moore is also the Poetry School’s new Poet in Digital Residence.  Kim is a wonderful poet based in Cumbria, with her intriguing first pamphlet If We Could Speak Like Wolves published by Inpress and eagerly awaited first full length collection due out in 2015 from Seren.  Kim has also been widely published in some of the top literary magazines, such as Rialto and Ambitand after reading her first blog I’m looking forward to more.

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