Dreich – Summer Anywhere Anthology

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.

You can order a copy here if interested;

https://hybriddreich.co.uk/product/summer-anywhere-pre-order/

How I Track my Poetry Submissions

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;

Green Ink Poetry – https://www.greeninkpoetry.co.uk

Acropolis Journal – https://acropolisjournaluk.wixsite.com/acropolisjournal

Little Stone Magazine – https://www.littlestonejournal.co.uk

Have a look – there might still be time to submit for the next issue ūüôā

Imagine Portsmouth

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!

Abergavenny Small Press

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.

You can read it here;

https://www.asppublishing.co.uk/richard-williams-fiction

Poetry Recordings – Edwin Morgan – The Video Box: No. 25

Just stumbled across this.

For those not fussed about football, but interested in other sporting or competitive endeavours, here’s Edwin Morgan’s poem about the (completely fictional) World Jigsaw Final.

What a truly wonderful, clever and witty poem. I wish I could write something like this!

From my Poetry Bookshelf – Philip Gross

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:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jan/23/philip-gross-poetry-eliot-prize

You can buy it on Bookshop.org here:

https://uk.bookshop.org/a/5319/9781852248529

There is an excellent review of Love Songs of Carbon , Philip Gross’ eighteenth collection in the Wales Art Review here:

https://www.walesartsreview.org/poetry-love-songs-of-carbon-by-philip-gross/

It’s another superb collection, and as with The Water Table, it’s a book I highly recommend.

As with The Water Table, it’s on my poetry bookshelf at;

https://uk.bookshop.org/a/5319/9781780372587

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;

https://www.philipgross.co.uk

I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest post in my From my Poetry Bookshelf series. Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

Poetry and Settled Status

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: 

‚óŹ lived experience of being a migrant or an undocumented migrant or seeking refuge in Britain and the Irish States,¬†

‚óŹ migrant, undocumented migrant or refugee experiences of rural and urban life, education, housing, work, healthcare, immigration and asylum systems, and¬†

‚óŹ 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:

http://conversationswithwriters.blogspot.com/2021/02/poetry-and-settled-status-for-all.html

Poetry Recordings – Jackie Kay – Old Tongue

This week’s poetry recording is by Jackie Kay, who had two brilliant poems in the anthology I wrote about on Sunday. It’s a wonderful poem about dialect, about the loss of language and the loss of sense of place that happens when we move.

It happens to us all that move. I’ve lost most of my Somerset dialect since I moved away, though I still call a wasp by it’s proper name, ‘jasper’. I wonder if my kids will still use the words of their home town – squinny, dinlo, mush ?

I guess I could write a poem about it. But then after listening to, and reading this, I wonder whether I should bother trying!

Poetry Recordings – Sylvia Plath – Lady Lazarus

This week’s random poetry recording is of Sylvia Plath reading one of her most famous poems. She was a brilliant reader of her own work. Whether or not you’ve heard it before I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

Incidentally, there’s a close reading of the poem on the British Library website here if you want to find out more.

https://www.bl.uk/20th-century-literature/articles/a-close-reading-of-lady-lazarus

Having struggled with my own mental health issues in the past, I’ve not really been drawn to her writing, (I appreciate that for others the opposite is the case), but I really do need to read more of Sylvia Plath’s work. The technique, imagery and language used is astonishing.