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A holiday and a vintage submissions spreadsheet

On a holiday

Just back from a short trip to the Netherlands where the weather was spectacularly mild and dry for late October. I can’t recall ever being at the seaside in just a T shirt and jeans on my birthday! And what a seaside.

From the pier at Scheveringen, a big popular resort with miles of gorgeous sandy beach

It was my first visit to the Netherlands (I don’t really count the trips to Hilversum and occasional foray into Amsterdam when I worked for Nike) and I loved the vibe where we stayed in The Hague and the small nearby towns of Delft and Leiden.

a community bookswap
A community bookswap

We couldn’t resist climbing the 300-plus steps to the top of the tower in Delft. Fab views.

View from the tower of the New Church at Delft
View from the tower of the New Church at Delft

And in The Hague, the museums we visited were intimate affairs and not too crowded. I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy the Mauritshuis with its rooms of Rembrandts and Vermeers, but to my surprise I discovered a love of Dutch 17th century portraits, and particularly the still life paintings…

Still Life by Simon Luttichuys
Still Life with Chinese Lidded Jar, Hazelnuts and Orange, Simon Luttichuys (1610 – 1661)

And the Escher museum was fascinating. I only know him for his famous woodcuts and etchings of ‘impossible’ views, but there was so much more to see.

View down into St Peter's in Rome by MC Escher
View down into St Peter’s in Rome by MC Escher

I came home thinking about so many things – the sea (it has a special resonance for the Dutch), unusual viewpoints, shared public spaces (people, trams, bikes… it seems to all work smoothly whereas in this country we have to put up endless barriers, physical and psychological), and how to be still and look closely.

On poetry submissions and record-keeping

A recent sign-up to my mailing list is Shaun Belcher, a plenty-published poet who is just getting back into the subs game – and look what he sent me:

Shaun's subs sheet

It’s a couple of pages from his poetry submissions record-keeping, back in the early 1990s! He gave me permission to share it with you. Some of the journals listed here are still in existence, some not. Look at the comments, some are pretty funny. Shaun tells me he had an acceptance rate of around 30% –  not bad! I think keeping a record of where you send work and what the response is (if any – note the “over a year and no reply – written off”!) is so useful as well as motivational. Thanks, Shaun.

On online workshopping

It’s week 4 of Bill Greenwell’s online workshop and I think I’m just settling in. Everyone there knows one another, and are familiar with the set-up. The first week went well, I jumped in and read everyone’s poems and commented on them all, although there’s no requirement to do so. But I like to be sociable and not appear stand-offish.

But by week 2 I was already feeling overwhelmed – so many poems to read and comment on, and trying to produce a new poem each week was weighing heavy on me. However, I seem to have now set my own pace. I try to read other people’s poems, but not if they’ve already had loads of comments. I sometimes add my comments but I don’t feel bad if I don’t.

Although I could just bring an old unpublished poem for workshopping each week (goodness knows I have a ton) I’ve set myself the task of only bringing new work, as a way of getting myself to write more. Having been away last week, yesterday I allowed myself a bit of leeway and posted an old poem that needs reviving. But overall, the course is proving to be very good for me.

Published inArtBlogCoursesCurrently influenced byInspirationPlacesSubmissionsWorkshoppingWriting


  1. Hilaire Hilaire

    Your holiday sounds fab and I love the community bookswap!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks Hilaire – yes, it’s cute isn’t it? And most of the book appeared to be in English. I feel the Dutch put the British to shame, with our national resistance to learning other languages.

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Robin Houghton 2021