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So no fireworks this week then? Hmmm

What a week. That election (can’t bring myself to watch). Another lockdown starts. Planet Poetry Episode 2 coming up. And I’ve just turned 60.

Planet Poetry

Peter Kenny and I were thrilled and touched by the feedback on our podcast first episode. Episode 2 goes live on Thursday, when I’m interviewing Clare Shaw (yeah, baby!) and Peter meets editor of Channel magazine Elizabeth Murtough.

Meanwhile we’re having an editorial meetup tomorrow in Lewes, the day before what would have been Bonfire Night but is now the day before lockdown. The Bonfire Boys and Girls have been told by their societies not to congregate or let off any ‘rookies’, but I can imagine the pubs will still be a tad busy. What are we thinking of? It should make a colourful recording.

Search for Planet Poetry wherever you subscribe to podcasts, or you can listen to episodes here after they are live.

The York MA

I’ve handed in my first assignment! Not that it carries any marks, it’s just a chance for them to make sure we can put one word in front of another, know how NOT to plagiarise and NOT to being a sentence with ‘and’. And I hope I’ve passed.

Whether I’ll make it to another ‘face to face’ seminar this term is anyone’s guess, but it’s looking unlikely. Ah well. More zooming.

Submissions, writing etc

Bad news! I’ve nothing out to mags at the moment. But I do have a dozen or so poems that have been rejected numerous times this year, so I ought to go back to them really, but I’m enjoying reading and writing about real poets at the moment, too much really, to bear looking at my own attempts, but that’s OK. It’ll happen.

Actually I had a poem in The Frogmore Papers recently, and I’ve two poems forthcoming in Prole next month I think, all of which I’m very grateful for, so I shouldn’t be moaning anyway.

The updated ‘Guide’

It’s out! My updated version of ‘A Guide to Getting Published in UK Poetry Magazines’ is here and I’ve sent out the pre-orders. Can I tempt you to a copy? Or someone you know? What else are we doing to do during lockdown except write and send out our poems? It’s a mere £6 including UK postage (£1 extra to send to the EU and £2 extra to North America).

Comps news

No, I’m not reneging on my vow to NOT enter single-poem comps this year. I did waver a bit when it came to the National Poetry Comp deadline, but as someone said on Twitter, having made the long list last year I rather feel lightning won’t strike twice (unless you’re Ian Duhig of course, who actually WON it twice). But that shouldn’t stop you, of course! I’ve been asked to promote the Cafe Writers Competition which closes 30th November (1st prize £1,000) and there are a plethora of magazines with their windows wide open this month, but more about that in a forthcoming post.

Published inBlogCompetitionsLockdownMags & BlogsPodcastRoundupsSubmissionsYork MA


  1. Hurrah! My copy of A Guide To Be Published has arrived. It’s looks packed with good advice. Thank you for being so generous with your time, Robin. Cx

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Ah, thank you Claire, that’s kind of you, although I’m sure you’re familiar with much of it! x

  2. Penny Penny

    Massive happy birthday for your 60th and hush now referring to yourself as not a ‘real’ poet! You are very much a real poet in my eyes and a role model poet at that!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thank you Penny! Yes that was a bit silly of me, I just meant not one of the great poets of course. A lesser poet? That covers most of us I suppose! We’re all on the same road! Hope you’re keeping well. X

  3. Jill Fricker Jill Fricker

    A belated Happy Birthday, Robin! I’m in awe re: the intensity of your involvement in all things poetry . . . you certainly know how to use a lockdown or two! Hope to see you at Stanza. On Zoom of course. X

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      HI Jill, and thank you! I wonder if it’s all about the need to feel in control of as much of my life as possible, and/or having new projects to keep me busy and not dwelling on things I can’t change. Anyhoo. I hope you’re well, and yes, look forward to seeing your face on a screen soon 🙂 x

  4. Brendan MULCAHY Brendan MULCAHY

    I wondered how you were getting on with Don Paterson’s THE POEM, as recommended for your course reading at York. I have enjoyed Paterson’s jauntiness before now and decided to give THE POEM a go. The first 100 pages on Lyric are enjoyable and insightful. The middle section, Sign: the Domain of the Poem, is proving impenetrable. I’m 120 pages into this section and have switched from ploughing to skipping. There are only so many ‘meaningless’ terms you can try to assimilate in a single sentence. Paterson himself admits it’s arid and recherché! I’m holding out for Metre: the Rhythm of the Poem. Paterson has a good ear and his confidence in Frost is something I share.

    One surprise is that the proof-reading is so scandalously bad. I pity the poor proof-reader but for Faber to print the title of Yeats’ most famous poem with a single ‘n’ in ‘Innisfree’ is beyond careless. That last section had better be good!

  5. Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

    Hi Brendan, yes, I took a sabbatical from The Poem, but recently returned, I’m now in the midst of ‘Metre’ and am finding it less of a slog than ‘Sign’! I’m enjoying the footnotes, especially the extended ones at the back. I agree there are some strange typos – omissions of words, odd commas – as if the proofreader didn’t quite understand the sentence! But hell, what a job.

    • Brendan MULCAHY Brendan MULCAHY

      We are a very forgiving readership. This is a man who blithely tells us that 90% of poems that come across his editor’s deak are rubbish (and he can often see that a glance), and in a single footnote assures us that we belong to ‘a calling whose principal rewards are mental illness, poverty, broken relationships and substance abuse’ [may we be spared!], and that older poets – men in particular! – “segue from poetry into mere ‘verse’ “. But he is very smart and funny, and all that ploughing turns up quite a few nuggets of wisdom. Almost reached the sunlit uplands of Metre. Good luck with your studies, Robin. I hope you are feeling strengthened by the academic underpinning.

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Robin Houghton 2024