Monday, 16 January 2017

Some miscellaneous literary links

  • Issue one of (b)OINK magazine has appeared - fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, art. Looks good.
  • While reading Flash Frontier I stumbled across Ingrid Jendrzejewski's bio - "... studied creative writing at the University of Evansville, then physics at the University of Cambridge. She has soft spots for Go, cryptic crosswords and the python programming language". Her 2016 list of pubs (36 items) is impressive - Aesthetica, 50-Word Stories, Flash: the International Short-Short Story Magazine, Flash Frontier, Litro, and various competition mentions (first place, Bath Flash Fiction Award, etc). One to watch.
  • If you like diagrams constructed from texts (Hamlet for example), you may be interested in Network Theory, Plot Analysis by Franco Moretti
  • Matthew Stewart's The Best U.K. Poetry Blogs of 2016 begins with "There's no point beating about the bush or glossing things over: 2016 hasn’t been a vintage year for U.K. poetry blogs" but he puts a brave face on it

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Maria Taylor and Gregory Leadbetter

2 poets, 2 pamphlets, 2 books, 2 publishers. Both of these poets had publications last year which were successors to earlier publications.

At a recent poetry meeting that I went to there was discussion about the changing role of pamphlets. They needn't be a stepping stone towards first-book publication. If you produce only 2 or 3 decent poems a year and you don't want to compromise on quality, a pamphlet's the only alternative to waiting a decade or so between publications. These two poets have interchanged publishers (Nine Arches Press doesn't do pamphlets, HappenStance doesn't do many books). Maria's taken 4 years to produce a pamphlet, and Gregory's taken 9 to produce a book, so neither has rushed. And it shows - both the second publications feel the right length; they're free of padding and have long acknowledgements sections. Both of the later publications have a prevailing but not monopolising theme that provides cohesion.

Both the poets have families and have written or edited other books in the interim, and they both write reviews, so they haven't been twiddling their thumbs while waiting for poems to arrive. All it needs is patience. What perhaps helps is that they inhabit creative writing environments that enable them to keep in touch with poetry-writing even when they're not feverishly writing poetry themselves.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Poachers and Gamekeepers

Gerry Cambridge edits "The Dark Horse" magazine and Nell Nelson runs HappenStance press. They both review, write articles, and still manage to write poetry. Both have written books of (and about) poetry, and both judge competitions - Gerry Cambridge is currently judging the National Poetry Competition.

  • Down with Poetry! by Helena Nelson (Happenstance, 2016) includes poems from "Ambit", "PN Review", and "The Rialto" - a heavier list of magazines than many unlight poetry books can boast. Several of the poems are about poetry. You shouldn't assume that the views expressed in these poems represent the publisher's opinions, but prospective submitters could do worse than read this collection.
  • How (not) to get your poetry published by Helena Nelson (Happenstance, 2016) has exercises and tables of information.
  • Notes for lighting a fire by Gerry Cambridge (Happenstance, 2011) is a book of poems that's been reviewed in "The TLS", "New Walk Magazine", "Critical Survey", "Poetry London", etc.
  • The Dark Horse by Gerry Cambridge (Happenstance, 2016) is the history of the magazine and much else besides. Well worth a read even if you're not thinking of submitting to the magazine.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2016 - my literary stats

In 2016 I wrote more prose than ever before (27,000 words) and fewer poems (7). In my case these 2 stats are related - most of my initial ideas could go either way. In the olden days I'd have presented texts like Death and deception as poetry because of its juxtapositions, density of interconnections and lack of plot. In the current, more permissive climate I can let it be prose (though not Flash).

I'd love to say that as the quantity of my poetry goes down, the quality goes up. Alas, the opposite is true. Not for the first time, my "selected poems" file (aka the draft of my first full book) has shrunk rather than grown in the course of the year - partly because of recalibrated Quality Control, partly because of re-categorisation.

The year began with some promising acceptances of stuff I'd sent off in 2015. Then successes fizzled out. I sent off about 30 things during the year of which 4 have so far been accepted. I gave some competitions a try and got nowhere.

The year ended with a poem in Antiphon (p.46) and Flash in Toasted Cheese. Next year I can look forward to publication in Unthology and Flash (Univ of Chester).

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

A UK prose submission schedule for early 2017

As more magazines introduce submission windows, and competitions increase their significance, it's worth planning ahead. I shall try to submit to these (mostly UK) competitions and submission windows -

Thursday, 15 December 2016

A UK poetry submission schedule for early 2017

I shall try to submit to several of these (mostly UK) competitions and submission windows -

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

workshop on dialogue

Updated notes about the workshop on dialogue that I did yesterday are online.

The summary and suggestions are

  • Go back to basics. Think about what dialogue reveals about people - not just in the words they say, but the pauses, hesitations and interruptions.
  • Read about the recent developments in discourse/conversation analysis. They help make explicit the mechanisms of dialogue we all use.
  • Mainstream literary dialogue has become rather formulaic and artificial. The standard notation hinders the rendering of some revealing aspects of dialogue.
  • Non-standard notations are increasingly common in novels. You might for example consider using screenplay notation.