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What I’ve been up to, and look ahead to Aldeburgh

Just a quick update and a look ahead to the weekend …

I was excited to see the T S Eliot Prize shortlist, especially as it included the excellent debut collection from Sarah Howe – Loop of Jade – which I mini-reviewed on this blog a short while ago.  I’ve already signed up for Katy Evans-Bush‘s excellent preview day when we look at all the shortlisted collections as curated by Katy. I went this a couple of years ago and it really enhanced my enjoyment of the readings night. Recommended! I’ve also bought a couple of the books on the list – Mark Doty’s Deep Lane and Don Paterson’s 40 Sonnets. I’m trying not to read any reviews of the books before I talk about them on the The Reading List, in case they influence me, and I’m trying so hard to learn how to review/critique.

Speaking of DP – I’ve booked to go hear him and Liz Berry read at The Print Room on 15th December…actually off the back of hearing Liz read on the podcast Transatlantic Poetry – definitely worth a browse, there’s a wonderful archive of poetry reading there.

Meanwhile I’m three sessions in to New Writing South’s ‘Advanced Poetry’ course with John McCullough and it’s really warming up. With a large number of students I suppose it always takes a while to settle down. But John’s enthusiasm and support is great. He’s giving us a crash course in poets many of us are unfamiliar with and it’s very exciting. I’m keeping notes on all the writing prompts and tips he gives us in the hope they will be useful to dip into. He’s also suggested we create an ‘anthology’ of poems that we like  – in magazines, on the web, etc – type them each out and save them in a ring binder under categories that will help us refer to them later, for inspiration. It sounds a bit analogue but I thought this was a fine idea – I so often read a poem in a mag, think ‘ooh this is good’ then have trouble recalling who wrote it or where I saw it – duh! Mind you, these days one needs to be careful not to fall into the ‘I must have subconsciously been influenced by XYZ  and yes my own poem came out pretty much word-for-word the same but it was all an innocent mistake!’

Last week we had a whistle-stop tour of rellie-visiting and on the way we stopped at Bradford upon Avon for Dawn Gorman‘s excellent Words & Ears event. What a privilege to be invited to read there – so many good poets in the room, and a lovely atmosphere. Thank you to everyone who came and also to those who bought pamphlets – I think this was my best reading in terms of sales!

Now I’m looking forward to the official launch of Sarah Barnsley’s debut pamphlet The Fire Station next Thursday 12th November at Goldsmiths in London. The Telltale Press massive is, well, massively excited about it, so do come along if you’re able.

And now to Aldeburgh! It’s my first visit to the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and I think it’s going to be a wonderful weekend. I’m sharing a ‘sorority house’ with poet friends Clare Best and Charlotte Gann on the bracing Aldeburgh seafront. If you’re coming too, please say hello if our paths cross!

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  1. Thanks for your newsy post, Robin. I’m taken with the idea of an anthology of poems I like – actually, I can see the benefit of typing them up since this is a form of close reading, paying attention to linebreaks, etc. Hope to see you in Aldeburgh and I’m not at all surprised you sold many pamphlets at Words & Ears, you read brilliantly.

  2. Thanks Josephine, I appreciate your support! See you at the weekend I’m sure 🙂

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Robin Houghton 2021