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Readings, decisions, fresh starts

I’m feeling very uplifted by real-life in-person poetry events. Last week in Lewes was the launch of three Frogmore Press publications: The Naming by Jeremy Page, Marion Tracy’s Evidence of Love and Neil Gower’s Meet me in Palermo. Strong readings all round and a cautiously-convivial atmosphere.  Fast on this comes tomorrow’s Needlewriters event, our first live readings since January 2020, featuring Jeremy Page and two prose writers Alice Owens and Anna Hayward.

Peter Kenny’s and my podcast Planet Poetry has restarted, the first episode of Season 2 featuring the wonderful American poet Kim Addonizio. There are several interviews currently in the bag, so it will be great to see how listeners respond. I was a bit sad not to see Planet Poetry in a recent round-up of poetry podcasts in Poetry News, and it was a kick up the bum to finish our new website and make sure it’s Google-friendly. Although having worked in online marketing for decades I find it hard to get enthusiastic about keywords and search terms any more. Anyway, those lovely folks at the Poetry Society offered to give our Season two opener a plug on Twitter, which was nice.

Although I’m on a year’s leave of absence from the University of York, I’m actually still plugged in to Dante and also Chaucer these days, and find myself referring to notes I was making on my core course module last year. I’m loving Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio, incorporating characters and language from the present day, although I suspect it might be sniffed at in some scholarly circles!

As regards submissions to magazines, I’ve decided to step away from them for bit. I have half a dozen poems out at the moment, but I’m not sending any more for now. I have a few reasons for this.

Firstly, I don’t need to, in the sense that I have a track record of publication now, and I’ve nothing to prove to myself or anyone else. I think I’ve found my level. It would have been nice to be have published in The Poetry Review or Granta, but it’s OK to accept that it’s not going to happen. I could kill myself trying to write the ‘right’ sort of stuff, or I could write what I want to write, and enjoy honing it as best I can.

Secondly (related to the first point), I have a publisher for my first collection. I don’t have the collection yet, but I have the freedom to complete it, knowing it will have a home. This is a very privileged position to be in and I want to enjoy the moment, not fret about why Publication A, B or C don’t want any of the individual poems. Plenty of high profile poets have told about how the individual poems in their (successful) collections were consistently rejected by magazines. Or even that they never submitted them to magazines.

I can’t swear that I won’t submit the odd poem here and there, but I’ll be very happy not to be constantly putting my work up for possible rejection. I think the course at York has opened my eyes/mind to a lot of things. Perhaps a leave of absence makes the heart grow fonder – I’m starting to look forward to going back, which is quite a turnaround.

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  1. Hilaire Hilaire

    That’s great news you have a publisher for your first collection – congratulations!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks very much Hilaire 🙂

  2. Rejections don’t go away. Often it seems to be quite a subjective process but who knows.

    You’re very wise to enjoy the moment with your forthcoming collection. Well done.

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Robin Houghton 2021