There have been a lot of lovely things going on in the UK poetry world recently, including festivals in Birmingham and in Scotland, and a writing retreat in Cornwall, and they’ve all gone on without me, although I’ve enjoyed reading about them and seeing pictures on social media. I would have gone to all of them if I’d had more money and less commitments at home. As it is, for the last few years, I’ve limited myself to one festival a year, a few workshops, a few readings, some open-mics and a sprinkling of invitations to read.
I still haven’t decided which poetry festival to go to later this year. It will have to be in the Autumn, after my children have sat their GCSE and ‘A’ level exams. I’ve enjoyed Swindon in the past so I’m looking forward to finding out who will be in the line-up this year. It would be wonderful to be totally surprised!
Other than sitting on the side-lines, this week I nominated three poems from And Other Poems for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. It was a much calmer process than last year, which was the first year that online poetry journals could nominate. Then, only the first 20 sites to nominate were eligible, so it was something of a rush to send in my nominations to make sure nobody beat me to it. This year, we’ve had plenty of time to choose our poems and any online journal listed at The Poetry Library, Poetry Ireland, or The Scottish Poetry Library is eligible. I won’t say which poems I’ve selected but, needless to say, you will hear about them if any are chosen by the judges. Last year I was thrilled that Emily Blewitt’s poem This Is Not a Rescue was Highly Commended and published in the Forward anthology.
I’m still waiting to hear on some submissions. One quite big one, poems with a publisher, the other poems for an anthology. And I’ve some poems with a magazine and three competition poems out. There’s so much, waiting, waiting, waiting. I’m trying to keep busy, and keep up my work-rate which, I think, started really well in January. I feel that I lost my pace a tad in February and I’d like to step it up.
I’ve also applied for a paid residency for the first time ever. I probably don’t stand a chance but I thought I’d give it a go. If nothing else, the process of applying was helpful in forcing me to think about my writing projects and plans. I haven’t been in a position, because of needing to be here for my children, to even consider anything like this before. Now that my children are growing older, I don’t need to be as tied to Wiltshire as I have been for the past 14 years. It seems incredible that both my children will leave school this summer! It will be a complete change, one that I’m already trying to accommodate by thinking of things like this residency.
I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that I’d like to send some poems to a magazine I haven’t tried before. I’m thinking of trying Shearsman which has an open window now, and I’ve already started to organise some poems. It’s a question of deciding which ones might fit the magazine and then giving the poems a little spit and polish. It’s satisfying to graft away at poems and parcel them off (even by email). It makes me think I’m doing something and it takes my mind off the waiting.
Isabel is someone I’ve got to know via Twitter and blogging. We first connected with each other about five years ago and we’ve become friends – I still don’t truly understand how this works but it really does – and we meet reasonably regularly now, usually in the delightful cafe in Salisbury Cathedral. Isabel has had quite a whirlwind experience, publishing her book, and has written here about the launch in America. It’s very exciting to be friends with someone when they achieve something like this. In the case of Isabel, it couldn’t have happened to a kinder, funnier, wittier person and I’m very happy for her. Isabel is reading at Loose Muse in Winchester on Monday 13th March, on the same bill as Kim Moore, so that will be a wonderful evening if you’re anywhere near. I can’t make it myself as I will be hosting an Open-Mic Night in Trowbridge which will also be a great evening. If only I could be at two places at once.
For now, I’m off to try to be more productive while I carry on waiting. Hope everyone has had/will have a good week.