On not blogging and putting your poems first

I’ve been absent from here of late, really since I got back from my holiday in Portugal, and it’s mainly because I’m trying to plough on with my poetry writing, especially as I’m taking a break from paid work.  I feel that I need to make the most of my free time as I’m never too sure how long it will last.  At the age I am now (53), I’m never sure how long time itself will last, either.

Although I’m sending work out for consideration, I’m trying to focus on the poems themselves, and not thinking ahead to a second pamphlet or a full collection.  I really loved what Helen Mort said in this interview with Dean Parkin from The Poetry Trust (kindly sent to me by Peter Raynard) about “putting poems first.”  I do come under some pressure, from friends and from myself, to get a move on with my poetry and publish a full collection, considering the age I am. But poems are no respecters of age!  They are ready when they are ready and there’s no point trying to rush them just because another birthday is looming.

Having said all that, I think I will know by the end of this year if I’m ready to submit a manuscript somewhere.  Since tall-lighthouse published my pamphlet ‘The Misplaced House’ last November, I’ve been steadily adding to my poetry pile, and a theme is taking shape. I have just over 20 poems out for consideration at various magazines and surely I will hear from at least one of them soon (no despair in the italics – well, perhaps a little).  A few more acceptances would bolster my courage and confidence and perhaps give me the nudge to parcel up a manuscript.

One very good thing about this year has been that I’ve finally trained myself not to deliberate too much over poems once I’ve sent them out.  In the past, thinking about and re-working submitted poems has slowed down my work on new poems.  This year, I’ve adopted the philosophy of not expecting good news (is that a philosophy?  I can’t see many people wanting to stick it up on their fridge but it’s working for me).  It makes for less anguish and I think the appearance of new grey hairs on my head has slowed down.

In other news, I’m loving Anthony Wilson‘s posts about not being on social media.  They read first fire 2015like letters from a cousin on a remote, faraway island – a very beautiful island, full of interesting attractions – and his post about someone being grateful for being alive really resonated with me.  Anthony is inspiring me to try not to waste time.  We lit our first fire of the season last night, a reminder that long nights and cold, rainy, indoor days are in the offing.  Good writing weather ahead.

Anyway, I’m off again (there’s no stopping me!) and I’ll report back with news of rejections (or – *gasp* *hope* *pray* acceptances).  Hope you all have a lovely week.

14 thoughts on “On not blogging and putting your poems first”

  1. Oh the waiting game! I hear ya. And also the thing about pressure of ‘age’ and the feeling of wanting (or needing?) to get on with it. But things go at their own pace, don’t they? Especially in poetry it seems 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Two things, Josephine. Or three. Depending. First, how do you get yourself in a situation to have a collection published? Not you personally. ‘You’ as in ‘one’. Because I’ve got enough for two collections, and counting. And no idea where to start. Despite reading endless bits of blog advice about it all.
    Two. 53? No probs.I’m 73 next. I didn’t start taking writing seriously-ish till 5 years ago, and only seriously seriously in the last two and half. So you’ve time for a selected, a collected and a retrospective. I think all these are a distinct possibility.
    Three. I thought there might be three.I think there’s a case to be made that cobweb-weaving comes under the heading of writing research. It takes me in all sorts of odd directions, and the actual business of writing sentences, of talking to people in writing, sharpens up your/ones/my ear for rhythm, syntax, idiom, repetition, lexis, repetition……………
    In any event, don’t stop blogging. You owe it to your public and your muse. And you’re nobbut a bairn.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Haha! Thanks on so many levels, John! No advice about how to get a collection (another one in your case) published other than send it off with a covering letter to a publisher/s – publishers whose books you like. And then, as Robin says, it’s the waiting game. Thanks again, your comment has made me laugh 🙂 x

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for the mention Josephine and a really interesting post as usual. I was going to mention John Foggin, who I find a great inspiration, not only because he is twenty years older than us, but because he has only been writing poetry for a relatively short time. He is obviously a very good poet and has worked at it assiduously. I’m two years into this poetry game and find it often makes me feel insecure. But when I ‘do’ the writing I really enjoy it and it helps me when I’m off doing other things. It is very much complemented by writing prose such as with my site. I sometimes get impatient with the pace of poetry, but in perspective it is not slower than academia in terms of publications (what is?) and is in line with my experience of writing in the charity sector. I think you’ve done really well getting poems published, a pamphlet, and now one of the Aldeburgh 8! However, the gap between pamphlet and full collection seems a long one (Malika Booker 6, Kim Moore 3, Helen Mort 4 years). Gulp! But Curtis Mayfield had right, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-l91O9VxN0 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s not a scientific formula, John. Don’t feel you have to wait until the required amount of time has passed. There are incidences of other poets who’ve shown no respect for time passing inbetween collections (Maitreyabandhu (pamphlets from Templar and Smith/Doorstop and two collections from Bloodaxe within a quite short space of time) and Ian Pindar (two collections from Carcanet in consecutive years) – two who spring to mind. If you feel ready, send out your collection today. According to advice from Neil Astley at the Bloodaxe website, it’s acceptable to (simultaneously) send a dozen of your best poems with a covering letter to a number of publishers – here’s the link http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/subs.asp – J x

      Liked by 1 person

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