One Year of Poems

This is the story of the first year of my poetry blog And Other Poems where I’ve posted over 200 poems by 177 poets

blog schedules

Whether I continue to add poems to the blog will depend on the quality of work that’s sent to it and my own commitments. Anyone who has ever been involved in running a poetry blog will know the hours taken up by opening emails (God Bless the poets who send poems in the body of an email), reading submissions, corresponding with poets, proofreading, laying out poems in WordPress (never have I felt greater love for poets using regular spacing and line breaks), publishing posts and promoting the blog through social media.  I’ve had a fantastic year, I’ve made friends through email, Twitter and Facebook and I’ve bought and read many pamphlets and books because of the work I’ve discovered through my own blog.  And Other Poems has also given me backache and headaches (there is a lot of computer time involved) and has eaten into my own reading and writing time (but as the year progressed, I managed this more effectively).  Has it all been worth it? Absolutely, YES.

a “gathering place for slightly dispossessed poems”

The blog has been described as, among other things, “a great resource”, “open-hearted”, a “rattle bag” and a “gathering place for slightly dispossessed poems”.  It represents a small selection of, mostly British, poets publishing today, some famous, widely published and seriously lauded, some not so well-known – yet.

For the record I’d like to thank everyone who’s sent poems

..whether or not they’ve been posted on And Other Poems.   I’m grateful for your interest in my blog and I’m especially grateful to all readers, likers and sharers – it’s been wonderful to see poems from my blog tweeted and linked across the World Wide Web.

As it stands today,  And Other Poems is an advertisement-free archive of a selection of contemporary poetry written in English.  I hope it continues to be read by anyone interested in poetry.

It started in August 2012

when I had the idea to put my own poems in a quiet, uncluttered on-line space – not poems that I was currently writing but ones that had already been published somewhere or had won or been placed in a competition.  I called the blog And Other Poems, stealing the idea for the name from Ali Smith’s book of short stories, Other Stories and other stories.

ali smith

So I posted my six previously published poems into my blog and within hours had received more views and likes than I’d ever received for my everyday blog (this one).  I quickly realised that the blogging community likes poetry – but how to give them more of what they wanted?

No harm in asking, right?

So I had the idea of contacting writers to ask if they’d like to post poems on my blog.  At that time I had perhaps 100 followers on Twitter and a few more contacts on Facebook.  I’m a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at UEA so I do have some contacts in the flesh, as well,  but not so many poets since I am a relatively new convert (my MA is in Prose Fiction and until 2009 I’d mainly written fiction and scripts).  But I set out contacting the poets in my circle via the internet.  No harm in asking, right?  I was delighted that, very quickly, poets said yes and started sending me their poems.

Simply a blog of poems

I clearly set out the concept of my blog, which is that it’s a quiet, uncluttered place for poems and nothing else.  Previously published poems are fine, providing the poet owns the copyright, and, if possible, the poems aren’t available to read elsewhere on-line.

I wanted to keep the blog simple, with lots of white space for the poems to “breathe”;  I didn’t want Twitter and Facebook feeds cluttering the site so I chose a WordPress theme with an area at the foot of the site for widgets (archive, recent posts, etc.).  I experimented with a few different themes and layouts before settling on the Twenty Eleven theme.

Hoping people will pop in to my poetry shop

However, now that the blog is one year old, I’m looking to refresh the site with a new theme so there are some changes ahead.  I’m giving the Twenty Thirteen theme a try.  If the new theme proves to be too distracting or unpopular, I’ll probably change back.  I don’t want unhappy customers.  It does actually feel, at times, like a shop, arranging the poems in the window and hoping people will pop in.

Once I’d contacted poets asking politely for their work, the poems started arriving and the rest is history, really.  Before long, poets started contacting me and offering poems for the blog so I added submission details.

I began by trying to post a different poem every day, then several each week, then several poems on the same day.  Eventually I settled on posting poems on Tuesdays and Fridays – sometimes a single poem, sometimes a short series by the same poet.  Some poets choose to send previously published poems, some are out of print, some are new, unpublished poems.

Becoming organised

With poems coming in left, right and centre (it certainly felt that way) I had to find a way of organising myself.  I printed off blank downloadable calendars from the internet so that I could schedule when I’d post each poem and let the poet know which date their work would be appearing.

The Blogmother

When I first started posting poems I was a little obsessive, spending hours on the blog to get it right and doing all I could to gather some interesting poems.  I was shopping with my daughter, Kitty, who was 13 at the time, when a really great poem came in and I showed it to her on my phone.  “You’ve turned into The Blogmother!” she quipped and, later, decorated my first schedule accordingly.

blogmother

To this day, it remains my favourite.  I keep pestering Kitty to send me one of her poems but so far she hasn’t been tempted.

Because not everyone says yes

when I ask them for a poem just as I haven’t been able to say yes to everyone who’s sent work.  Sometimes poems just don’t fit the blog or are too similar to other work that’s been sent.  I always try to respond quickly and I’m always kind (I hope) because I know what sending work out is like.  With regard to my own poetry, my rejections far outweigh my acceptances.  And in the interests of balance, I’ve left only one of my poems on AOP – perhaps I’ll post more in the future.

So there it is, a year of poems.  I can’t really think of anything else to say so I’ll leave it to the poems to do the talking.  Do pop in to visit them, you won’t need your coat or your wallet.

blog schedules 3

33 thoughts on “One Year of Poems

  1. isabelrogers says:

    I was lucky enough to be one of the earlier contributors, and it has remained a delight. I can’t believe you’ve been doing this for a year! We are all grateful: a calm, ad-free space online is precious indeed. I’ve found some gems here. Thank you.

    Like

  2. helenmackinven says:

    As you know Josephine, poetry is not my thing so I’m not a regular reader of the poems submitted but I do read all of your posts about your own writing, workshops etc and enjoy following your progress. Well done on sustaining a commitment to your blog as I know how easy it is to let things slip and how much time and effort it takes to make sure it looks professional.
    BTW I love your nickname The Blogmother – that made me smile and I’m sure that there’s a whole persona waiting to be explored! 🙂

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  3. roymarshallROY says:

    Thank you for taking time to produce this really well written summary; interesting, concise, and clear as a bell, all characteristics of your excellent clutter free and user friendly blog, definitely one of the best places online to find poetry.

    Like

    • Josephine Corcoran says:

      Aw, thank you, Roy! There are some terrific poetry blogs out there – it’s interesting to see the different ways people are using technology to share poetry. I really appreciate your comment. 🙂

      Like

  4. Lindsay Waller-Wilkinson says:

    Josephine… I’ve loved your blog and the poems you have featured have often moved me into reading up on the poets and buying their collections and pamphlets, but more importantly, have often just moved me.

    Thank you

    Lindsay

    Like

  5. Hilaire says:

    Thanks for all your hard work setting up and keeping the blog going. I love discovering new poems & poets, and I feel privileged to have a couple of my own poems up there alongside such fine work. Your quick response is also appreciated! Here’s to another stimulating year, in whatever form. And hope you make time for your own writing too. Thanks again.

    Like

  6. garylongden says:

    Congratulations on your first birthday! Any blog has an uncertain life, and finding a niche is the trick, you have found yours in providing both a platform for others’ work and a debating post for poetic issues. I always look forwards to your posts.

    Like

  7. Rockcru says:

    Thank you, Josephine. Your blog is one of the few ways I can become acquainted with contemporary British poets who have not yet been published in the U.S. It’s a great service to the poetry community.

    Like

  8. Marie says:

    thanks so much Josephine – for your generous blog and for telling us your interesting story, and last but not least for the hours of loving attention to the poems xx

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  9. Sue Dymoke says:

    The blogmother. What a great name. I really like the range of poems and poets you are threading together through your blog. Hope it’s not taking up all of your writing time though!

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  10. Elly says:

    Happy Birthday to *And Other Poems* !

    I’ve been following your poetry blog for a few months now, Josephine, and I enjoy it very much.

    And I appreciate the opportunity to have had my poem in your first wave of August summer poems, though I (BLUSH!) should have known better than sending a poem with all those indents!!! Sorry 😀

    Like

  11. Tara M says:

    I can’t imagine the time it took to review submitted poetry and organizing it to present online. But what a wonderful and necessary tasks for readers and writers alike!

    Like

  12. Mary says:

    Hi Josephine, I am wondering how you deal with the copyright issues of previously unpublished poems on your site. I would like to start a poetry community of my own but I am hesitant to ask poets I know for their poems, since I know they would rather see their work in print or with a more reputable site than my amateur blog. Don’t many magazines not accept “previously published” poetry, including stuff that has appeared on a blog somewhere?

    Like

    • Josephine Corcoran says:

      Hi Mary, As you have stated, publication on a WordPress site is publication, so writers would need to choose whether or not to publish their work on your site. Copyright would remain with them. Their work would not be eligible for any journal that wanted previously unpublished work. The majority of writers who send work to And Other Poems have already published the poems elsewhere but they appreciate the wide audience reach of the site and the opportunity for their work to be ‘read again’. Best wishes with your project. – Josephine.

      Like

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