First: general ‘how I’m feeling’ stuff, feel free to skip down if you’re short of time
Apologies for the silence these last few days. The usual self-employed person’s dilemma of feeling like rubbish and simultaneously wanting to stay on top of work and not let people down.
Yesterday I had to leave early from John McCullough’s poetry workshop at New Writing South, for fear of irritating everyone with my endless coughing. Once home, I went to bed for two hours. And being a fast day was good, especially the no-alcohol bit. So the upshot is that I’m feeling much improved today (but not well enough to go to choir rehearsal tonight.)
The Reading List
My mini-review series ‘The Reading List’ has come to an end. It was just SO 2015! There are plenty of excellent other blogs featuring reviews, and looking at the stats for this site I could see that the initial interest in mine had levelled out. However, I’d like to assure you I’m still reading, and now and then I may well be moved to blog about individual poetry collections.
What I’ve enjoyed lately: Mark Doty’s Deep Lane, full of pathos, warmth and even farce – there’s a lovely tale of the narrator locking himself out of his house not once, but twice, and having to clamber through the window ‘which makes me think / this was what it was like to be born: / awkward, too big for the passageway…’ (‘Spent’).
I’m meandering my way through Mark Ford’s essays on poets, as gathered in This Dialogue of One (Eyewear). They are thought provoking, well researched and accessible (but not so ‘accessible’ that I don’t feel I’m being educated!) For example, this morning I read about the controversy surrounding the interpretation of Emily Dickinson’s work and how her editors disagreed about how it should be presented – as pure manuscript, or as ‘visual productions’. It made me think about her poems quite differently. If she’d been around today I think she would have wholeheartedly embraced everything from graffiti to video and sculpture in the course of expressing herself. Probably not a performance poet though, given her reserve. But a kindred spirit to Banksy, perhaps?
News of poetry rejections, submissions etc
Last week I spent a few days going over the poems I’ve been gathering for a next pamphlet. I haven’t entered the Poetry Business pamphlet comp for a few years now (since my over-confident days!), because I feel it’s the ‘big one’ as regards pamphlet comps, and the odds of winning are low. Also, I don’t feel I’ve had a strong enough submission, the time hasn’t been right, etc. But a funny thing happened as I was reading and ordering this latest group: they seemed quite good. So I thought I’d just do it, and enter. I ruthlessly ditched a couple that seemed weaker, although I like them. I’d also resurrected a poem that first saw light of day in The Interpreter’s House about 4 years ago, but that I’d been working on to improve since. In the end I had 21 poems. I wasn’t sure about the title, but I never am. Anyway, it’s sent now. Never to be thought about again, until I can try it somewhere else!
Are you currently sending out pamphlet submissions? What’s your feeling about them? I once heard a poet talking about how she wouldn’t send out her MS unless she’d first paid a professional poet to edit it. Is that usual? I just kind of naively thought you put it together yourself, did your best to order the poems, eliminate any stupid errors, and … send. And if someone liked it, you then worked with the publisher/editor to hone things up. Do share your own experience of this, I’d love to know.
Meanwhile I received yet another rejection last night, to add to the one last week. Talking about kicking a sick poet when she’s down. Still, not quite as bad as getting a £100 speeding fine three days before Christmas – Top of the Season to you, DVLA! Still, as regards the rejections (I prefer ‘DECLINED’ as a folder name) I console myself with the fact that several of the re*****d poems had been out so long I’ve since revised (and hopefully improved) them. We shall see, when I try them elsewhere. On the good news front, Charles Johnson of Obsessed with Pipework has found space for my 2 poems in the February issue, so I won’t have to wait until May to see them in print and settled down.
And MORE good news – Telltale Press has at last been accepted by the Poetry Library as a legitimate press, which means we will have a listing on their website and that all our forthcoming pamphlets will be available there. Another small but significant sign of recognition, and gratefully received.