All posts filed under: Angst

Eyewear - Best New British and Irish Poets anthology

Eyewear Anthology launch & a scary flashback

This one is dedicated to my good friend Lucy, who often comes with me to London poetry readings. I’ve taken her to standing-room only upstairs rooms in Victorian pubs, damp basements that turn into saunas in the summer, corners of (yet more) pubs where poets compete with the steady traffic to/from the gents, drunk hilarity from the bar and piped music. She listens, she smiles, she pays her way, she never asks ‘is it nearly over yet?’ and she never complains. And whenever I invite her, she comes along, cheerful as ever! Thank you, Lucy! Yesterday she and I were at the launch event for Eyewear’s ‘Best New British and Irish Poets 2017’ anthology, at the Windmill in Brixton. I’m very grateful to have a poem in such an anthology, and in such good company. Luke Kennard, thank you for picking it up – I didn’t feel able to elbow my way in to your entourage yesterday to say so, so I’m saying it here. I also want to thank Charles Johnson who originally published the poem …

NPC winners 2017

National Poetry Competition awards night

This is where I open with a statement about the star-studded atmosphere of the Savile Club ballroom last night, where the UK’s biggest poetry single-poem competition reached its climax…but this is my blog after all, so I know you’re expecting something a bit more – um – prosaic? Something about my exchanging some banter with Patience Agbabi while delving into my bag on the cloakroom floor, or trying not to look like an imposter as I anxiously scan the room for canapés. Well, yes, that did happen. And I was nervous walking in. But it was a joy to be there with poet friend Lynne, who shares my trepidation for these things but who always appears to be an oasis of calm and wisdom. First up was the Ted Hughes Award, a newish prized instigated by Carol Ann Duffy, who generously funds it from her annual stipend for being Poet Laureate. Is she just the most impressive Poet Laureate ever? Like a brilliant Head Girl. Detention for anyone who doesn’t love her! The award “celebrates new work that may fall beyond …

hazel at the beach

News round-up: the good, the bad & the ugly

Facebook blackout – the verdict It’s now been two months since I stopped checking in with Facebook and I’m enjoying the freedom it’s given me. I’ve been writing, little by little, not an avalanche of new stuff, but a lot of reworking of old material. I’ve also found new possible projects popping into my head, which may or may not happen but I won’t beat myself up if they don’t. Being Facebook-free did mean I missed the news of two great-nieces being born on the same day, but good old email did bring me a missive after a couple of days. My siblings’ children are procreating so fast I’m finding it hard to keep track of all the new rellies! Above is a photo of my granddaughter Hazel, enjoying herself on the beach a couple of weeks ago 🙂 Nothing to do with poetry but a nice photo I think! She didn’t write her name herself, but rest assured I shall be coaching her in all things poetry asap. Good things, and a bit of navel-gazing I’ve had another …

Quote by Charles-Bukowski-—-8

On staying motivated

It’s one of those tricky periods right now. The poetry honeymoon is well and truly over. I’m existing on a handful of acceptances (for which I am humbly grateful). I’m surrounded by talented, prolific poets who all seem to be successful and getting noticed while I seem to be not writing anything that people want to read. I need the Spring the get going, dammit – I know a bit of sunshine would help. I also know this feeling will pass. One saving grace right now is that I’m not a US citizen. Which must sound monumentally trite, so I must explain that in 1999 I was living in the US and was (I thought) not coming home, ever, to the UK. Just as my lawyers gave me the good news that my Green Card application had progressed to the next stage, and just as I was several thousand dollars the poorer, my job was reorganised. So I was back in the UK quicker than the time it took me to unlearn how to say ‘water’ …

Sovereign Harbour Eastbourne - January

TGI February

January is really my least favourite month – I think it’s the short days and dark evenings that are so depressing.  It doesn’t help that the it’s the month of both my father’s death and my late mother’s birthday, so they are always both on my mind. However! Let’s not get gloomy. I did go to a couple of good poetry events and even sent a few poems out. I did a lot of reading. My ‘start a poem a day’ pledge didn’t quite run its course, but I did spend a good amount of time writing and in particular rewriting old poems.  I did manage to start eleven new poems. I also revived one that I’ve been fiddling with for four years, and which is shortly going to appear on the Mary Evans Picture Library ‘Poems and Pictures’ blog. Which is a fantastic resource, by the way – more on that in a future post. Meanwhile the ever-supportive Charles Johnson has taken some poems for Obsessed with Pipework, which I’m really pleased about. They are three of the ‘workplace’ themed …

getting off facebook

Giving up Facebook for at least a month

Today is my last day on Facebook for a while. I was inspired by Dan Blank’s recent blog post about the importance of ‘investing in white space’ in our lives: time for reflection, time to breathe. If you’ve ever craved more time for writing, reading and creating, it’s really worth a read. I came relatively late to Facebook and have never taken to it in the way I did Twitter. And yet I find it takes me away from Twitter, because it sucks up more time. And when I open Twitter, I have a much more rounded, balanced, exciting and inspiring view of the world. There’s just something about Facebook that seems closed and self-regarding. But then I ask myself, why am I using it? Here’s my pros and cons list: Positives I like seeing some of the photos people post – beautiful landscapes, quirky family snaps, cute animals – but not all I like watching some videos, but not those that make me feel I’ve just wasted two minutes of my life. Trouble is, you …

Merry Christmas from Eastbourne Pier

End of year gratitude & resolutions

Is this the blogging equivalent of the Christmas round robin? If so, I confess I rather like receiving them. I honestly quite like reading about relatives of relatives I’ve never met, who’s had a baby and what they called him/her, where people have been on holiday. I even enjoy the cliches and the interminable ‘filler’ prose (‘as the days are getting shorter…’ etc) that people often resort to, as if not wanting to JUST talk about themselves. Unlike when you’re listening to wedding speeches, you’re not a captive audience, so reading the round robin can always wait until you’re comfy on the sofa with a cup of tea or glass of wine. I covered submissions stats in my last post, so this one’s more of a round up  – good stuff, bad stuff. Favourite blogs. Resolutions. Gratitude. The UK political/economic & cultural climate has been well documented elsewhere, so let’s just call that a given – a backdrop to the tiny, insignificant-in-the-scheme-of-things, day-to-day life of one person. Two steps forward I’ve a huge amount to …

living room window before

Poetry vs DIY, plus a few upcoming deadlines

It’s easy to lose the rhythm of blogging – I’ve been lacking the motivation lately, partly out of a feeling of ‘what is there really to say that makes a difference?’ And yet, there are always interesting things to say. I’ve recently been admiring Josephine Corcoran’s commitment to blogging every day during November – sometimes in-depth pieces and other times brief updates or musings. It’s all interesting. Similarly, one of my all-time favourite blogs is Jean Tubridy’s Social Bridge – impossible to classify in terms of its content, and always compelling. So what’s on my mind at the moment? Firstly, an increasing need to stay away from Facebook, TV news, the media generally. Is that an age thing – when nothing under the sun really seems new, or if it is, it often seems inconsequential? Perhaps also a ‘winter’s-coming-and-the-days-are-getting-shorter thing? Secondly, we’re approaching our first winter in our new home and the to-do list is as long as ever. It’s such an absorbing project that sometimes I’d just rather strip down a window sill or paint a …

On the cross channel ferry at dusk

To travel hopefully…

..as a teenager I remember being set this title as the subject of an essay competition, and I charged off on what I thought would surely be the winning entry. Sadly it was not – but then again if I’d known the rest of the phrase was ‘…is better than to arrive’ it would at least have given a me clue. Ah, those heady days before the internet, when we had to ask people things, or look things up in the library! I’m never quite sure about the idea of going on holiday in order to recharge the batteries, or coming back thoroughly relaxed. I tend to come back dog tired. Which is what happened this weekend, arriving home late on Friday after driving several hundred miles that day; on Saturday I had to sleep most of the afternoon. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to go away and feel unleashed from day-to-day concerns back home. I’m very grateful to have done such a thing. A friend said to me recently she’d never …

poems for pamphlet

Individual poems v collections – still on the learning curve

Putting together a collection of poems is proving to be harder than I ever expected. For a while now I’ve had a number of poems on a theme, which originally I dared to call ‘a pamphlet.’ I tried it on a few pamphlet comps: a couple of long-listings came of it, but basically nothing much. So I looked very hard at the poems. Some were definitely stronger than others. Some I ditched entirely, some I took to workshops, some I worked on, and continue to do so. I sent them out as individual poems to a few places and it took a while but eventually a few of them have now been taken by magazines. But no-one has taken more than one, even though I’m now sending several as a ‘sequence’, or at least calling them ‘part of a sequence.’ I still believe very strongly in the sequence (or pamphlet, if that’s how it ends up) and perhaps I have more poems to write which may find their way in. But only a few of them ‘stand alone’ out …