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On over-exposure and other poetry ups and downs

It’s been a busy few weeks. To tell the truth, I’m feeling a little over-exposed. You know how annoying it is: Poet X has just launched this, then it’s announced they’re going to be judging some competition or other, then someone has just interviewed them or whatever and you just think I’ve had enough of Poet X and his/her face all over my social media. All I can say is that when you say yes to an interview, or send some poems to a magazine or competition, or write a review, it’s out of your control when these things hit. Sometimes it all happens at once.*

Anyway, at the start of March I had the magazines windows spreadsheet thingy to update (no I still haven’t got a short/neat name for this. Suggestions please) three interviews to edit for Planet Poetry, and the usual shedload of reading. I’d half thought I would enter the Poetry Business pamphlet competition this year, but once I’d got out my sorry pile of poems I realised it was the usual mish-mash of unrelated material with no discernible link between any of them.

Reader, I did not enter the competition. But one very good thing came of the ‘getting out the poems’ exercise, which was the realisation that with a bit of work, I had a dozen or so poems that could be good enough to send out. So I set to on the work, then did some sending out. Let the rejections or acceptances begin. I need to move forward and the only way to get my poetry-writing mojo on is to SEND SEND SEND, thus clearing the way for NEW poems.

My uni course is still online, sadly… it looks like I’m going to do an entire academic year without setting foot in the library. Thank goodness for electronic resources, and World of Books. But the handful of us majoring in poetry & poetics have chummed up on WhatsApp, and we meet for Zoom chats too, which is almost as nice as socialising in the ‘Common Room’, or wherever the socialising takes place in normal 21st century times. I got my first term essay back with a somewhat mediocre mark and dismaying feedback. I’ve certainly had some wobbly moments on this course and that was one of them. But hey ho. I’m a grown up and can take criticism, albeit through gritted teeth. And selectively. I’m doing this for fun, right?

Something that really is fun is the Planet Poetry podcast. We recently put out the 10th episode, an interview with Inua Ellams who really blew us away. A fine poet and a lovely guy. It was so interesting what he had to say – do have a listen if you haven’t already. Co-host Peter Kenny and I have a number of interviews in the pipeline and I like to think we’re getting better at it as we go along – I’ve certainly learnt a lot, and even enjoy the editing, finding music to use in between clips etc.

*OK, since you asked (!) there’s an interview with me on Abegail Morley’s website talking about life in lockdown, recordings of three poems on Mark Antony Owen‘s marvellous Iambapoet website wave 5 (going live on Monday 15th I believe) now live – and I’m currently a ‘featured poet’ on the Chichester Poetry website. Subscribers to South magazine will shortly be receiving the latest issue with featured poet Miriam Patrick, for whom I was delighted to write an introduction. I’m sure you will have seen Miriam’s work in magazines. She’s a poet for whom I genuinely feel a first pamphlet (or collection) is well overdue. Come to think of it, I know of several people in that category… I may make a blog post of it.

And finally, I’d like to mention a couple of poets I’ve discovered via the excellent Live Canon Friday lunchtime readings, whose work I’ve really enjoyed: Laura Theis and NJ Hynes. These readings are every Friday at 1pm and have been excellent – next Friday the line-up is Marcus Smith, Jill Abram, Andrea Holland and Cherie Taylor Battiste. Recommended.

(PS just noticed I’ve used THUS and two instances of WHOM in this blog post. All this academic reading must be rubbing off on me.)

Published inBlogEventsLockdownRoundupsYork MA


    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Haha! Thanks Mary, that’s a thought. Or maybe ‘mags list’. In the tinyurl address it’s ‘Robinslist’, but that was for convenience. Naming it after myself feels narcissistic and a bit cheesy. 😉

  1. Oh Robin thank you so very much for recommending my poetry, your mentioning it made my day! I loved reading with you for Live Canon – thank you – I’m also so grateful I discovered for your wonderful poetry and your blog!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Hi Laura, and I’m sorry I took so long to spot your comment! You’re very welcome. I hope our paths cross at an actual poetry reading some time. 🙂

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Robin Houghton 2024