Just received my contributor’s copy of Iota #94. They’ve kindly published three of my poems: Melusine, which came from an aborted sequence, Hawkmoth, and In the Dark, a strange fantasy drafted on the lonely platform of Denby Dale station late one winter’s night in 2012 after I’d given a workshop.

I was pleased to find myself rubbing shoulders with poems by my good, and very modest, friend, Stuart Pickford, recent winner of the Yorkshire Prize in the Poetry Business Competition. He has a very dry, laconic observational style, his poems very often grounded in family life, with an honesty and accuracy that attaches the reader’s experience to his. (Somewhat of a contrast to the more histrionic and fantastic voice that seems to creep into my work….but variety, spice, life and all that).

There’s also a review of Will Kemp’s Lowland, a book I’d recommend. You can read my review in Orbis #167 if you want to know why – but, basically, his narrative lyricism carries you through his poems so that you find yourself reading more and more of them to sustain the experience. Will is one of the winners of the inaugural Cinnamon pamphlet competition (I was shortlisted – must try harder).

Most of the other poets in this issue are unknown to me, so this is going to be an interesting read.

Here are a few images from my installation Skylines which, with luck, you’ll be able to see before my reading tomorrow. (Click on an image to expand it. Unfortunately, the resolution isn’t good enough for you to read the poems. You’ll have to visit the Bank Street gallery for that.)

Firstly, a view of part of the skyline:

Skyline exhibition 005

Here’s one of the “mobiles”:

Skyline exhibition 007

and a view of another part of the skyline

Skyline exhibition 011

And finally, a sort of epigraph:

Skyline exhibition 004

Well, not quite Midsummer. It’s the 15th of June, in fact, as part of Sheffield’s Midsummer Poetry Festival, at Bank Street Arts Centre, with Katharine Towers, a poet whom I love and feel privileged to read alongside, and Kath McKay, a poet whom I don’t know much about, but who has an excellent rep. Details and tickets here.

Meanwhile, in case you can’t make it, here’s a couple of pictures from the launch of Out of Breath in March. Firstly, a tubby poet gets a little excited:

Image

And here’s the rapt audience, some of whom even appear to have momentarily stopped drinking:

book launch 070

 

I finished the installation today, so the relevant page of this blog has been updated. It’s some way from what I envisaged, but pretty effective, I think. Certainly it’s been a struggle getting it into place, so I’ll need a few days before I can judge it objectively, but I think it works, and I think it’s interesting. Whilst there’s more to do on it, I believe it should be a good resource for people taking part in the upcoming festival.

I’ve added a page to the blog on my current project, and installation called “Skylines” which will appear in the Midsummer Poetry Festival at Bank St from June 6th. Not long to go now, and the pressure is mounting to get it finished. Today, at last, things eventually came together and I see what the final piece will look like. Check out the Skylines page to learn more:

With very lucky timing, I was asked to contribute an “interview” (really an emailed Q&A) to the website for Neon Magazine. This is a great way to promote Out of Breath, although the focus of the interview concerns the poems that Neon took: “Sanatorium”, “1984 in 1968″ and “Under the Floor” . This is a free downloadable magazine, available here.

Incidentally, checking sales figures on Amazon, I note I’m not quite in the best seller lists yet. The book is currently 2,138,987 in the list., which means I’ve still a little way to go.

I’ve also been asked to read at a great monthly event in Leeds. Poetry by Heart at the Heart Cafe in Headingley. I’m reading alongside five other poets: Steve Anderson, Will Kemp, Hilary J Murray, James Nash and Clare Shaw. Of them, I know Will Kemp’s work best. He’s another Cinnamon poet, and has two excellent books under his belt, with a third on its way. Here you can find Lowland and Nocturnes. James Nash and I were both involved in an Off the Shelf event in 2012, debating the future of the book – and he also was given the Residency for Wakefield literary festival that year, which I also applied for. He does a great deal in and around the Yorkshire literary scene, but I don’t really know his work well. Clare Shaw also has an impressive bio, with two Bloodaxe collections, but I don’t know Steve Anderson and Hilary J Murray at all, so will be interested to hear voices new to me. 

Last night Rosemary (my Antiphon co-editor) celebrated her winning of the Uni-verse poetry competition held in Hallam University, where she’s just finished her MA (with a distinction). Hallam does poets proud in this annual competition and ceremony, the readings were great, and it was particularly good to see the three youngsters from local school Notre Dame reading their winning entries, too – though copies of these weren’t available for the audience, which was a little disappointing.

It feels good to celebrate Rosemary’s work. The next step for her, I think, will be a pamphlet or a collection. Certainly her MA collection is worthy of such publication, but it’s so difficult to find a press, as most have their doors shut, and many are failing. Magazines are having a tough time, too: I counted 8 which have either disappeared or suspended operations in the last year or so. With fewer outlets for decent poets, and yet, it seems, a growing number of pretty good writers out in the world, it seems harder and harder to find that vital opportunity.

Still, I know that persistence pays off, and Rosemary will certainly find a good home for her work, later or, hopefully, sooner. I think she’ll go on to achieve great things.

Congratulations, Rosemary!

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