Saturday, 13 December 2014

A submission schedule for early 2015

I shall try to submit to most of these (a mix of prose and poetry)

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Nine Arches Press Poetry at Five Leaves Bookshop

I spent a formative year or so in Nottingham long ago. It was there that I once wondered whether I might become a part-time writer. I was on the tipping point, nearly on the slide. Instead I went off and did an M.Sc in something else. Nottingham seems to have a thriving arts scene, helped no doubt by the c.30k students in the city.

On 7th December I went to a Nine Arches Press Poetry reading at the impressive Five Leaves Bookshop. It's down an alley in the heart of town and has shelves of poetry books that are rarely seen in bookshops. It has some poetry magazines too, as well as the usual range of books that one might hope for in an "alternative" bookshop. If you're in Nottingham, go and buy something there. I bought myself some early Xmas presents. I've talked to Matt Merritt before; we often attend the same Midlands or London bookfairs and have 2 publishers in common. I've read his books and those of Tony Williams, who I met for the first time on the night. Those 2 readers were joined by Bobby Parker and Dorothy Lehane, who were new to me. I need to see Dorothy Lehane's work on the page. With Bobby Parker it was the other way round - until I heard Heroin Lullaby spoken I didn't realise how much I liked it.

I met Maria Taylor too (we read each other's blogs), and I think I recognised Andrew Duncan in the audience.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Local Poets

The local "Cambridge News" has recently published 2 features -

  • In late summer I went to a poetry workshop in Cambridge. Just 7 of us and 2 tutors. One of the tutors (Emily Berry) was later announced as a Next Generation Poet, and one of the "pupils", Natalya Anderson, later won the Bridport out of the blue (though she's just completed an MA in creative writing). Clear Recent History is the article about her that appeared in the paper. See the bio and judge's report at the Bridport site.
  • I've known Diana Brodie for years. The 29th Nov edition of the newspaper has nearly a page about her. The headline is - "I write about people who lose their way". My interview with her is Diana Brodie: an interview. She's also been interviewed by Cambridge 105's booknight - listen to the podcast

On 25th Nov I went to a "Cambridge Poets" poetry event at Corpus Christi attended by at least 50 people and introduced by Richard Berengarten (formerly Richard Burns, though I only realised that today!). He pointed out that Cambridge poetry is internationalist and varied. 10 poets read - 1 lecturer, 6 pgrads (2 doing Beckett, 1 doing Olson, 1 doing architecture, 1 doing education, and another doing Assyrian/Neo-Aramaic). There were 2 performers (a winner of SLAMbassadors UK, and a slam champion of Macedonia + neighbouring countries). Another's doing a Writing MA at Royal Holloway. Several had been published, but the only publishers' names I recognised were "Knives, Forks and spoons", "Emma Press", "Magma", "Rialto" and "Poetry Wales".

Yes, there was variety. There were poems about nothing much, and a poem about a college porter who'd died. One poem was for 2 simultaneous voices. Another was some Google suggestions for search target completions. There was also some Oulipo (which I think is more suited to page than stage).

Friday, 7 November 2014

I'm not giving up the day job yet

In 2010 my pamphlet appeared. In 2012 my book appeared. 2014 is coming to a close with no new book in sight. After a productive September, I've had a barren October. Our courgettes were flowering on Guy Fawkes day, but I've written next to nothing for weeks, and have had no acceptances. On Making a living from writing books: what works, what doesn't Emma Darwin points out how difficult it is to make money from literary writing. If you don't write the right stuff you won't sell. There's money for writers within education, but that involves compromises too. In "A Poet's Work" Sam Hamill writes that "A typical poet in North America finds it necessary to relocate every year for the first few years after college, and every several years for a couple of decades after that. The poet becomes disconnected, never developing a true sense of place or of community outside the community of the printed page. The typical poet teaches". The UK is getting like that too, with budding writers chasing residencies and short-term contracts from place to place.

Having a real job doesn't interfere with my writing. If anything it helps. Maybe it's as well that all's quiet on the literary front because at this time of the year I'm busy at work. The invitation, a reward for 25 years of non-relocating, came as a surprise - is it really that long? The Web was barely around when I started.

I've been to more poetry events this year than usual (most recently readings by Allison McVety and Ben Wilkinson) but generally I don't frequent the literary circuit. Again, I don't think this harms my writing, though it may damage my chances of publication. There's a world outside literature. This year, because of family events, I've been to places I wouldn't otherwise have visited - Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham, but also the "Up the Creek" comedy club in Greenwich, to see a son performing. He says he doesn't intend to do stand-up as his day job.

If work and family aren't distraction enough from writing then I always have the Italian connection. I've recently rediscovered my wedding certificate. I was married in Italy, so we don't know why it's partly in French. My 2015 resolution will be to read a book a month in Italian. I'm not going to set myself any writing resolutions, I promise.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Submission snapshot

Writers new to submitting their work sometimes begin by sending away a piece at a time. They're surprised when I suggest that they keep many pieces in the post. Here's what I have out at the moment -

  • Poems to magazines - 11
  • Stories to magazines - 2
  • Stories to competitions - 5
  • Flash to magazines - 4
  • Micro-fiction to magazines - 14
  • Poetry book competition - 1

That's 37 pieces sent to 17 places - a mix of ambitious targets and smaller outlets. If 10% of these succeed this time round I'll be happy. For some of these pieces I already know where I'll send them next if they're returned. Some have already been rejected many times, but I like them. Overall, my eventual success rate with poems is 30%. With articles/stories it's 14%.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Recently published pieces

In the last few weeks I've had a few things published online -

Along with recent paper appearances in "Acumen" (poetry aphorisms) and "Under the Radar" (2 poems) these add up to a busy month.