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Readings, launches & other poetry news

There’s been a flurry of poetry events lately and lovely things happening.

Hastings Stanza reading

A couple of weeks back the Hastings Poetry Stanza had its second evening of readings as part of the St Leonards Festival. Somehow we all crammed into the bijou bookshop The Bookkeeper, the proprietors of which are extremely supportive of local poetry and generously laid on drinks and nibbles. The heard a wonderful variety of styles and subject matter, from Gavin Martin’s hilarious riff-rant on Liam Fox to some understated and moving work from Andrea Samuelson.

Huge thanks as ever to Antony Mair for managing everything so calmly and efficiently. A most convivial (& warm in every sense of the word) event – and somehow I managed to spill three glasses of wine before a drop had even passed my lips. Serves me right for wearing white trousers.

Clare Best book launch

Last Thursday I was at the newly-opened Depot in Lewes on what felt like the hottest day of the year for the launch of Springlines, the book of Clare Best’s collaboration with artist Mary Ann Aytoun-Ellis. We heard some short readings, enjoyed a rolling slide show of the photos and artwork from the book, shots of Clare’s notebooks (I enjoyed these particularly!) plus photos of previous events around the project. Two years ago I saw the exhibition at Glyndebourne of some of Mary Ann’s paintings and Clare’s poems and it was magnificent. Some of these, together with new work, is currently on show at Tunbridge Wells Museum. Do go see it if you’re anywhere nearby.

In the capacity of my ‘day job’ I’ve recently finished a revamp of Clare’s website – also worth a visit, especially for the lovely recordings Clare has made of several of her poems.

A bit about singing

By the way I passed my singing exam – despite a pathetic showing in the sight-reading test I managed to ‘perform’ the songs convincingly. Today I’m singing with Eastbourne Choral Society in their summer concert (summer is traditionally ‘easy listening’ – show medleys, a bit of Gilbert & Sullivan, John Rutter’s folk-song medley ‘Sprig of Thyme’ etc). It sometimes seems as if both choral singing and poetry take a hiatus in the summer on the assumption that no-one is around during the school holidays, so there’s inevitably a big spree of launches/readings/concerts/festivals before the end of June & July.

Speaking of which…

Magma launch

Magma 68 is having a launch event at the London Review Bookshop on Friday 28th July. I’m hoping to combine reading a poem there with a visit to the Hokusai exhibition at the British Museum as it’s just around the corner from the bookshop. It’s the first time I’ve had a poem in Magma so I’m excited about this.

A bit about acceptances & rejections

I’ve had a huge amount of luck this year and it’s a strange feeling to have so many poems in the ‘forthcoming’ pile.

This week I heard that The Rialto are taking two poems for their August issue. This kind of news is always reassuring. Believe me, I get as many rejections as the next poet – I make a point of mentioning all of them here in order to show the real situation, not a sugar-coated one. But I also mention the acceptances, to show that persistence can sometimes pay off. The two poems that The Rialto liked have both been rejected elsewhere, one in particular has been floating around for three years, been rejected by six magazines and got nowhere in two competitions. I have certainly tweaked it from time to time, in between sending out. But not substantially.

I currently have five poems in the ‘recently rejected/review and re-send’ file – three came back from The Poetry Review (I can only try!), one from The Rialto and one from Poetry News. It’s now a question of do I have anything newer that’s ready to go, or do I ‘review and re-send’? Historically I tend not to send something out right away but let it sit and stew for at least a few months. So maybe I’ve answered my own question there.

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  1. Antony Mair Antony Mair

    Thanks for the kind words, Robin. But a spate of congratulations is due to you – from the singing exam to the poems in Magma and The Rialto!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thank you Antony!

  2. Robin, so great to see you at the Springlines launch at the Depot – what a hot night that was! And thanks so much for flagging up here the exhibition in Tunbridge Wells – on until October 14th. Many congratulations on *all* your recent good news – publications galore and singing too… superb.

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks Clare 🙂

  3. Jill Fricker Jill Fricker

    For those not at the Hastings Stanza festival performance, I have to tell you that Robin gave a great reading of a new long poem that she is currently working on. If you think that digging up humour for a poem centring on the topic of relentless south-coast bus rides to radiotherapy sessions is a challenge too far. . . think on!

    And many congratulations on all your other successes, Robin!

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Robin Houghton 2021
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