There are so many blogs and so many websites for writers out there that it’s difficult to find a niche. After worrying about it for quite a long time, I finally decided to write a blog just for sharing thoughts on poetry. A sort of amalgamation of what I like about other writer’s blogs: of how the wonderful Kim Moore talks about general life, what she’s been doing and her life as a poet living in the real world as well as what she’s reading, introducing a new poet every Sunday, the amazingly talented John Foggin and his cobweb with it’s eloquent and spirited observations and his introduction of ‘polished gems’ and all the other brilliant blogs out there that are talking about poetry and life and how the two go together. Because that’s what this is for me. The two are so intertwined that I don’t even want to analyse it. It just is.
I’ll try my hardest to update on a Thursday, but that might not always be possible because of my workload. And yes, I’d like to feature poets that I come across, but probably won’t every time.
So here we go.
This week I have had the pleasure of mentoring two new people. One of them was referred to me through the Womentoring project, a project aimed to help women writers gain access to writing mentors in situations where they might not other wise be able to. She’s an incredibly talented poet, I have slight imposter syndrome working with her as she really is just so good. She seems to be enjoying the process and as always I am getting so much from the experience too. She’s my twelfth mentee from the project, which makes me very proud.
My other mentee is a paying mentee, he has approached me to help him learn the basics with a view to accomplishing his dream of getting a poem published at some point. Both mentees are on opposite ends of the spectrum, knowledge wise, and the process with him is different, more about analysing poems so that we can work towards understanding what makes a really good poem, and putting that into practice. I’m loving it. It’s helping me reconnect with the magic that is poetry. He seems to be enjoying it too, and i’m getting paid for that one, so it’s even better.
I’ve also been busy with my business ( I run a small animal boarding business and I also test horse poo for parasites, the business is called meadow view animal care). I’ve had three gorgeous bunnies boarding, (one was a bit bitey, but cute) and dog walking, cat visiting and dog visiting for a lady working shifts. I also have a fair few animals myself: a dog, a cat, nine rabbits and a guinea pig, which keep me occupied.
As well as that I have been procrastinating over the teaching plan for a job that I have coming up in September. It’s at a place called The Work shop in Ebberston. I went for an ‘interview’ there a few weeks ago and was impressed with the beautiful location and the buildings and the general feel of creativity and community about the place. I’m very excited about it, but quite nervous too.We’ve said that we need a minimum of five bookings to go ahead with the course and a maximum of ten. I last heard we had booked two in, I should email and ask if we’ve had any more, but I’m sort of trying to save my own feelings! Just in case no one wants to come.
I’m primarily a poet but I do write fiction and have had short stories published, this is the first time I’ve actually taught the art of fiction writing. I have lots of ideas about it, I want it to be fun, of course, and I want to connect the writers to the act of story telling, as well as helping them find the tools. And there is an art to it; we all know what it’s like when someone at a party tells an anecdote and it goes on too long and one’s brain starts to trip off and think about what we’re having for tea…and we all know those people that can hold an audience captive, in the most pleasurable way, with a story about nothing much which just seems to deliver something special. I want to be able to show what the difference is.
Poetry wise, I have written a couple of drafts about dog walks and gardening. I’ve not been writing much of late, so it was nice to come back to it. The manuscript that I am working on for my MA at MMU has been playing on my mind some what. It’s all wrong. I had some brilliant feedback from a couple of friends who I sent it to, and that was so helpful in showing me where I am going wrong, and where I am going right. I’d originally wanted to write about the IVF (we’ll be entering into IVF no. 6 in early 2016) but the poems I’ve come up with are all so blunt and dead. They are journal notes made into poems and that was never what I wanted to do. I wanted to be honest, brutal even, but I didn’t want to write a chronological account of five rounds of IVF, a stillbirth and two miscarriages. I want the manuscript to be about love. Because that is what IVF is about, it is about creating love. What I have ended up with it a manuscript whining and moaning and talking about fannies a lot.
So, plenty of work there. To stop me worrying so much (I have two years to get it right, so I’ll likely leave it until two days before it is due in)I am trying to write about anything other than dead babies and IVF. Hence the dog walk and gardening poems. I have a lot of dog walk poems, they might make a very gentle pamphlet. I use the dog walk poems as prompts to get writing, descriptions of nature, birds, wildlife, movement, weather, more than anything. I once heard of a poetry exercise in which you had to go out with a bag and gather ten things on your walk, bring it back and that was your poem. It’s a bit like that, I go for my dog walk, observe and write a poem when I get back. Not every time, I should add. If I could write a poem every day then I probably wouldn’t worry so much. But here’s the thing, even in those exercise-like dog walking poems, the things that I am really thinking about seep in. Because that is how poetry works, for me, anyway. I have all sorts of stuff being worked out somewhere in the back room of my head that I am not aware of, and it comes out in poems. It’s rarely what I set out to write about.
I also managed to submit five poems out this week to The Black Light Engine Room and to this great new online magazine The Compass Magazine which is doing wonderful things with poems and reviews. This was a good week of submissions and I counted up and realise I actually have eighteen pieces out which I am waiting on responses for. I have quite a few more that could be out somewhere too, but work is quite the time suck so I submit when I can. I’ve also been looking at my Selkie poem sequence. I’ve written a another poem for that. It’s not dissimilar to the feeling I get when writing the Nan Hardwick poems about witches. Very freeing.
The other thing I am working on is something very, very exciting with Northern Soul and all will be revealed soon enough. I have to write a bit of blurb about it yet.
This week I have been mostly reading….
The poetry/fiction/reviews magazine Under the Radar from Nine Arches Press. I got a contributor’s copy because I have a poem in it called If you can tame it, you can have it. It’s a poem about retrieving memories and using them in writing. I don’t write about the writing process itself very often because it’s probably really boring to other people, but this was something that came out of NaPoWriMo which I do every April. I generally get a good batch of poems in April and then for the rest of the year I relax and write when I can. (I have likely jinxed myself now.)
UTR also features a brilliant review of my full collection, Museum Pieces from the aforementioned John Foggin. He certainly has a way with words does Fogs. I am grateful for him turning that acute observational eye onto my book and for his way of seeing right to the crux of it. My book, incidentally, is available here at the lovely Prolebooks website.
Under the Radar is a very fine publication. I’ve been dipping in and out of it on my tea breaks and have loved the poetry. It’s so good, i’m going to take a subscription out on it. I think you should definitely buy one. The one that I am in, obvs.
So there endeth blog no.1. Until next Thursday…