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A writing retreat, and other treats

Standen House

I always think of January as being a bit dreary, so it tends to be the time of year I make plans for things to look forward to.

Number one is a short writing retreat – I did a DIY retreat a couple of years ago and got a lot out of it – not least of all enough material to produce two decent poems.  But I was a bit lonely – so this time I’ve booked 3 nights away rather than four, at a National Trust flat in Standen, an Arts & Crafts house which I’ve always loved visiting. I’ll have free range access to all the gardens and grounds while I’m there and a cosy flat in the servants quarters where I can read and write. Are you jealous yet?! That will be in March, when the days will be slightly longer and who knows, maybe warmer too.

I’ve also booked onto an afternoon workshop with Anne-Marie Fyfe on the theme of ‘a bridge too far’ in February, and this workshop offered by Poetry Swindon also looks tempting – Smart reading for smarter writing with Martin Malone – but it’s the day before and I might be tad exhausted from all the workshopping (and travelling) in one weekend.

It’s a good thing I’m going to be doing some workshopping and retreating because I’ve got a few readings coming up, and need new material! This Thursday 22nd January I’m on home turf here in Lewes for Needlewriters, then nothing else booked for a while, although Telltale Poets are planning another reading in March or April – we’ll be finalising that soon. On April 22nd I’ll be reading at Lauderdale House in London, as part of Shanta Acharya’s Poetry in the House series, which will be fab, and in May 3rd I’ll be in Mayfield for a reading during the Mayfield Fringe Festival, at the kind invitation of Sian Thomas. Later in the year, big thanks to Dawn Gorman for booking me to read at Words and Ears in Bradford on Avon on October 29th – which is actually my birthday, so we’re making a nice trip of it.

As regards submissions, there’s no news to report I’m afraid. I’ve lost a bit of momentum. I’m in the doldrums with no sign of the wind getting up. So I’m focusing more on finding the time to write, and am resisting the urge to enter competitions or submit to any more mags just for the sake of getting things out there. To be honest the cupboard is bare at the moment – all my half-decent stuff is tied up and out of circulation. If you’re interested, here’s how the magazine submissions are going:

4 poems have been out for 5 days – yes! I submitted a few the other day – but other than that:
9 poems have been out for 76 days
4 poems for 131 days
4 poems for 156 days

I’ll soon be able to move a couple back into circulation which were out to competitions. It’s a slooooow process, isn’t it? But I’m heartened by reminding myself that for many fine poets three or four good poems a year was (or is) enough.  Quality, not quantity 🙂 And think of the treats coming up!

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Robin Houghton 2024