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Currently reading, plus an anthology & a contract

It’s been a busy few weeks. Planet Poetry is two episodes into Season 4 and I’ve currently got three interviews to record before Christmas. The first is with Paul Stephenson, whose debut collection Hard Drive (Carcanet) comes with gold-plated reviews – and all well-deserved in my opinion. If this book doesn’t make the shortlists next year we might as well all give up now. Buy the book and even better still! listen to the poddy and watch out for the interview.

Hastings Stanza Anthology cover image by Judith Shaw

The launch event for the Hastings Stanza Anthology last month was standing room only, and we were thrilled to raise several hundred pounds for the brilliant Refugee Buddy Project. Copies are still available (ask me) and since we’ve covered our costs all sales income now goes to the Project. The cover features a painting by the multi-talented Judith Shaw and there’s lots of lovely work in this book as you can see from the below.

I went to the London launch of Clare Best‘s new collection Beyond the Gate last month and it was a super evening. Unfortunately, having to leave to catch a train while Clare was still surrounded by a crowd of acolytes, I was delighted when my signed copy arrived in the post. It’s an excellent collection. I do love Clare’s work.

Also on my ‘to be read’ pile: Isabel Galleymore Significant Other (Carcanet) and Jane Clarke A Change in the Air (Bloodaxe), both poets I’m going to be interviewing soon for the podcast. Jane’s book was shortlisted for the Forward Prize this year and is on the TS Eliot shortlist. And I’m pretty sure Isabel’s collection was on the shortlists a couple of years ago.

Good news on the submissions front – Pindrop Press has offered to publish my collection next year and I’ve signed the contract, so I guess it’s official.  I’ve been so impressed with editor Sharon Black’s communication and enthusiasm. I feel very fortunate indeed, and in safe hands.

Alongside the poetry, I’m reading plenty of novels these days, mostly to learn something about what makes an enthralling historical & general mystery/thriller, as that’s basically what I’m writing. I’ve developed a bad Abebooks/ World of Books habit, but the problem is that a lot of novels (actually, most of them) just don’t excite me enough beyond the first chapter, and I’m either left with bookshelves bulging with stuff I don’t want to read or having to take bagfuls of books down the charity shops. So I’ve bought a Kindle. I never thought I would, but actually it means I can get through a lot more novels without having to house the actual books, or even carry them around. And because it’s easier take with me everywhere, or read in bed, I read more books right to the end. I get it out everywhere I used to get my phone out – on train platforms, on trains and buses, in hospital waiting areas etc. I like it a lot. And I’m doing far less doom-scrolling.

Meanwhile Christmas is coming and with it all the concerts. Posters to design, programmes to produce, music to learn etc. And Nick and I have several Lewes Singers gigs and two one-day workshops in the early part of 2024, so that’s another load of music-sourcing, event promotion, communicating with participants, tea-making etc etc. Never a dull moment, teehee.

Btw I’m singing in a big Verdi Requiem this coming Saturday 11th November at All Saints Hove. It’s big, blowsy, dramatic stuff! Come and listen!

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  1. Congratulations, Robin. I love Pindrop and I completely agree about Sharon Black. I’ve met her a few times at events and I was on a Paul Stephenson transreading course with her a couple of years ago – she was another participant but her comments in workshops were an added bonus for the course. I’ve just bought Fiona Larkin’s book and I also have Pam Thompson’s and possibly some others (I forget). Pindrop is growing an impressive list. Hurray for you!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thank you Josephine 🙂 x

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thank you Polly!

  2. Hilaire Hilaire

    Congratulations on your forthcoming Pindrop publication! Excellent news.
    Also interesting to read about your conversion to Kindle. I’m sticking to physical books at the moment, especially as I have so many still to read, but perhaps some time in the future I’ll be converted.

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks Hilaire, well yes the kindle is great, although I haven’t given up on physical books. I don’t think I’d find the Kindle much good for research/non-fiction where I need to jump in and out. And certainly not poetry. But bookshelf space is precious so I suppose I’m talking about using Kindle for the lightweight stuff – books I would have borrowed from the library.

  3. Jennifer Page Jennifer Page

    Hi Robin,
    Stacks of novels free near you and they need your custom to stop being closed down by the Council. It’s known as a library. I keep my little Stockbridge Library here in Edinburgh busy with lots of online requests as there is not much on their shelves I want. Novels for a library will be a doddle. You won’t be a pesky customer like me asking for newly published books. Have a wonderful 2024. Jennifer PS. If the plan is to write your own novels, then forget reading other stuff. To quote -forgotten his name-, you put your bum on a seat for four hours every morning and just put something down. Forget all the OU stuff about planning etc. Just write down what comes up in your head. You will be surprised. Amazed. Literally go with the flow. If the first book is to complete an OU project. Write the plan afterwards!

  4. Peter Clack Peter Clack

    I’ve had a Kindle for about 10 years. Always with me – at present about 400 books in the machine itself and a further 1600+ in the kindle-cloud. I can’t imagine life without it.

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Robin Houghton 2021