Delighted to receive a copy of the latest Dreich anthology, Summer Anywhere. My poem On the Success or Otherwise of Disposable Barbecues makes an appearance amongst 200 pages of poems by other poets. I’ve not read them all yet, (my copy arrived yesterday), but what I have read so far is excellent. Fellow Portsmouth poet (and Ted Hughes award winner) has a superb poem in the anthology.
I’ve had a couple of new acceptances in the last couple of days – another acceptance for Green Ink Poetry, and a poem in the first edition of Acropolis Journal. Both are online magazines. I’ll share both when they go live, though one is pretty dark – to put it mildly – and will need a trigger warning.
I thought I would use this as an opportunity to share how I track my poetry submissions – it would be great to see what systems other writers use. If you are a writer then let me know what works for you!
I’m submitting on a weekly basis and plan to carry on doing so – with a new collection potentially happening next year it’s fairly important to do so. It’s also great to read the work of other poets and discover new voices that are worth following and looking out for.
It’s also important to read each magazine before submitting anyway – in some cases I’ve felt that the publication isn’t right for my writing, or only potentially suitable for certain poems / styles – Green Ink Poetry for example tends to focus on shorter form poems. I hadn’t picked up on this the first time I sent in a submission, but had realised this by the next time since I actually read the magazine properly! The poem that was successful was one that I sent in specifically because of this.
I’ve also learnt the importance of tracking what you send out – firstly to avoid duplications (some magazines accept simultaneous submissions, some don’t), and also to avoid sending something to the same publication twice, which I almost did today when submitting to Little Stone Magazine. But luckily I had been keeping a record. Here’s a screenshot showing some of this year’s submissions. The greyed out bold entries are successes, the greyed crossed out italicised poems are rejections, and the other ones are active poems.
The magazines are a mix of print and online, brand new and well established publications, that will get anything from a couple of hundred to several thousand submissions per issue. I am absolutely delighted with every acceptance. Every publisher is trying to build credibility and their own magazine presence, so for them to accept one of my poems is a big deal.
I keep a summary of where I am over the course of the year in terms of acceptances / submissions etc. I’m not tracking percentages … yet!
Alongside this list I have a spreadsheet that I use – poems are organised in columns – waiting to be sent out, submitted or published. If submitted I have a 6 month ‘nudge’ date / date when available when I get back to the editors to chase an update, though the vast majority get back to me very quickly – I’ve had rejections within 48 hours on a couple of occasions! If I don’t hear back then the poem is moved back to the available list
You’ll see that the poem titles are in some cases in colour. I do this in order to track how often a poem has been sent out. After all, if it’s been rejected a lot of times maybe it just isn’t good enough? Whilst you can’t see it here, some recent acceptances have been for poems that have been submitted four or five times before. Sometimes it is simply a case of finding the right home for that particular poem.
A couple of other pointers;
If the poem in the published column is in bold it has been accepted by a publication that I haven’t had work in before.
If the poem is in italics and pale blue, it is a previously published poem that has found a new home in a magazine or on a website that accepts work that has appeared elsewhere before.
So what do you think? How do you track your poetry submissions? I’d love to find out!
I’ll finish this post with a link to each of the three magazines mentioned in this post;
A quick mention for a competition being run in my home city;
Can you capture Portsmouth? Enter Imagine Portsmouth’s creative competition and help celebrate Portsmouth’s vision for the future. This summer, Imagine Portsmouth is asking people in Portsmouth to get creative and share how they see Portsmouth – through a poem. Aspiring poets of all ages can take inspiration from the city vision and submit entries online. The winning entries will be selected by a panel of expert judges from across the city. The winners will have their work showcased online and there will be a £75 prize for the winning poem.Poems may have been previously published as long as you have the copyright.Find out more and enter at
I may well enter, though it will have to be something new I think – most of my Portsmouth poems probably won’t fit the city vision!
Having a little break from the Poetry Bookshelf blog posts whilst I think about how to develop this page further. It was becoming more of a chore than a joy – and I think it was starting to reflect in the writing.
The last couple of library posts weren’t as good as I would have liked them to be, but writing a strong, detailed post takes time. Something I have been short of recently. It is what it is. In the meantime, a little bit of positive news on the personal writing front, as I have had a prose piece accepted in the latest edition of Abergavenny Small Press’ online journal.
I’ve been writing these bookshelf posts for a few months now – 25 posts in total – and I am starting to wonder whether there is much value in continuing with them. As with most bloggers, especially new ones, it sometimes feels as if I am writing into a void.
Am I? Does anyone actually get anything from these posts, or is it time for me to switch on to something else? This may read like some kind of existential crisis, but it isn’t – having spent a year running social media for a local recruitment company, I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of chasing page views and hits as opposed to proper engagement with content that really interests your (in my case pretty limited) readership.
There were 865 different unique visitors to my blog last month. Is this good, is this bad? I don’t get too many comments here – apart from those from all the lovely spammers of course (thank you for your deep interest in my page 😉 ), so it’s not always easy to tell.
So if you’ve enjoyed reading these from my bookshelf posts and want me to continue with them then let me know in the comments. If not, feel free to let me know why. Either way, it would be really interesting to see what people would like to see from a blog such as this moving forwards. If anything!
Do I carry on with these weekly bookshelf pages and weekly audio recordings, or do I just use this as a place for my own random ramblings? If no one is reading it and getting any value from them, is there any point?
And please, please, don’t take this as some kind of cry in the dark. I’m not upset either way – but if there really is minimal interest, then I’ll be happy to use the time in a different way.
A quick plug for Interstellar Literary Magazine, a primarily US based online publication. Issue 3 was published today, including a prose piece from me – one of a 25 – 30 page (currently) sequence of prose works thematically linked by cars, childhood and Tangerine Dream.
I own two books by Philip Gross – The Water Table (winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2009), and Love Songs of Carbon (from 2015), both published by Bloodeaxe Books. I’m not quite sure why I only have two of his collections. In my opinion he is one of our best contemporary poets.
I grew up in Somerset, so a lot of his location – based writing has deep resonance for me (Gross was born in 1952 in Cornwall), and The Water Table in particular is centred on the South West of England, with a particular focus on the Bristol Channel. Not only poems of place, but there is also elemental poetry about water itself.
Here’s Gross reading Severn Song, the final poem in the collection;
There are poems of environmental change – Atlantis World and Elderly Iceberg off the Esplanade, which begins with the lines;
Last night it came knocking, a first since the end of the Ice Age. A stray eddy brought it, a backhander from the Gulf Stream. It was heading inland, could it be to spawn?
Other highlights (for me at least include a long poem which lifts off with observations in a retail car park (Fantasia on a Theme from IKEA), and a sequence running through the book (Betweenland I to Betweenland X) which as their titles suggest, explore the spaces between land, water and air.
A body of water: water’s body
that seems to have a mind (and change it: isn’t that what makes a mind, its changing?) not much prone to thinking – rather, thoughts curl through it, salt or fresh, or hang
between states: sometimes gloss the surface with their oil-illuminations.
(from Betweenland I)
There are other poems of course, on other subjects, but this is a collection that is held together by water and how it connects us to our past and who we are. A good review can be found in the Guardian here:
This collection explores different themes, predominantly of ageing, and the language is, as with The Water Table word perfect. Take the first seven lines of A Walk Across a Field
A week of snow, slight melt, refreeze and it comes to this: the ground withholds consent to every step;
it has us grappling, gasping, at each other, like the fond emergencies of young love.
To quote Michael Symmons Roberts & Moniza Alvi, writing in the PBS bulletin
‘The writing is sinewy, urgent and resourceful. The poet is a master of form, deploying his visual and aural patterns for emphasis, as if the page were a musical score. The absolute poise of the lines carve a way through the knotted difficulty of the raw material’.
Interested in finding out more? I’m going to finish with the classic social media / blogger’s faux pas, with a link away from this blog, but it’s worth it. You can read, and hear, a lot more of Philip Gross’ work via his website, at;
A quick post this afternoon to mention an anthology open to submissions up and till June 30th – so if you are interested you’d better get on with it!
CivicLeicester is inviting and accepting poems and short fiction on the theme, Settled Status or Indefinite Leave to Remain for All. The editors will also consider poems and short fiction exploring themes that include:
● lived experience of being a migrant or an undocumented migrant or seeking refuge in Britain and the Irish States,
● migrant, undocumented migrant or refugee experiences of rural and urban life, education, housing, work, healthcare, immigration and asylum systems, and
● the hostile environment.
The call for submissions is inspired by how, in Britain and the Irish States, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, several coalitions, including the Status Now Network (SNN), Members of Parliament (MPs) and groups that are concerned about the welfare of refugees and migrants are calling for settled status or indefinite leave to remain to be granted to all people who have insecure immigration status or are undocumented or in the legal process so that the people can access healthcare, housing, food and vaccines.
Details on the Conversations with Writers blog here:
A quick mention for an event I am reading at tonight – if you are at a loose end and want to hear a range of poets read their work, details follow;
POETRY & JAZZ CAFÉ
Thursday, June 24, 7.30pm. ASSEMBLY ROOM, NORTH ST, CHICHESTER, PO19 1LQ.
As part of the Festival of Chichester, acclaimed poets Raine Geoghegan and James Simpson team up with jazz stars the Charlotte Glasson Trio, with legendary guitarist Chris Spedding, to entertain and inspire. Raine will read from her Romani poems while James will read from his new collection. Enjoy a delightful mix of words and music in the historic setting of the Assembly Room. Tickets £15. Disabled access. http://www.thenovium.org/boxoffice Tel 01243 816525 https://festivalofchichester.co.uk