Although not back to how it was before the pandemic, I am increasingly venturing out in the world to attend poetry events and readings, as well as still going to online things. Trowbridge Stanza, the monthly poetry group I organise, is meeting in person again, not monthly, as we previously did, but every other month (this might change in the autumn). I went to an interesting talk about The Wasteland at Bristol Library last month, part of Lyra Poetry Festival. It was so great to be out and about and to travel home while it’s still light. Spring brings such longed-for delights. I felt the same way last Wednesday in London for a launch of Kathy Pimlott’s debut collection the small manoeuvres (Verve Poetry Press). I’ve followed Kathy’s poetry for several years, bought both of her pamphlets from the Emma Press, and long-admired her precise, original, engaging poems. Her poem ‘As You Are 90, I Must Be 65‘ is published at And Other Poems and is one of those I nominated for the 2019 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. It was just terrific to hear Kathy read, she has an assured and unshowy performance style that held everyone’s attention last week in the rather beautiful setting of the Phoenix Community Garden which is (amazingly) hidden within the heart of London’s West End.
I was also impressed by readings I heard at the online launch of books by Betty Doyle, Qudsia Akhtar, Erica Gillingham and Nicki Heinen (all Verve Poetry Press). Unfortunately Nicki couldn’t be there but Geraldine Clarkson read some of her poems, as well as poems of her own. My overwhelming feeling at this event was a feeling that poetry has upped its game since I was last at a reading (pre-pandemic). These are strong, strong poems. I was similarly dazzled at the launch of books by Anita Pati, Jemma Borg and Denise Saul (Pavilion Poetry Press). I will be surprised if at least one of these aforementioned poets isn’t on one or more of the big poetry prizes this year.
As for my own writing, I am scribbling away. It’s been nearly four years since my first full collection was published by Nine Arches Press, the new poems have accumulated and they’ve been obligingly travelling forward, and mostly back, to various competitions, publishing houses and magazines. I’ve also been trying (and failing) to write something longer form. I never intended to write poetry, my MA (at UEA in 1997) was in Prose Fiction, but poetry is the form I’ve been able to sustain the longest since I first started writing seriously. I’m pleased to have poems forthcoming in Under the Radar, Magma and Raceme magazines and a poem was Highly Commended in the Teignmouth Poetry Competition, so I’ll be reading that at Teignmouth Poetry Festival later this month (I’m extremely excited about a visit to the seaside – and I’ll also be in Margate on Friday, 3 June, for the launch of 14 magazine at the Turner Contemporary Gallery, part of Margate Bookie Festival). I record my small poetry successes on the News page of this blog, to remind myself that things are still (just about) moving forward in my writing life, it’s not all return to sender.
I hope there’s some forward movement in your life, also. As always, thanks for reading.