January 2011


I had a pleasant time at the Newark Prize reading yesterday. C.J. Allen, who has many competition successes, also read, and I was pleased to find that a friend of mine also had been recognised in the competition: Lou Wilford, with two poems in the runners up.

On the way home I suddenly realised I’m already involved in as many poetry events this year as I was in the whole of last year. This is partly because of my recent luck in competitions: following Newark, I’ve the event at the Moorland Discovery Centre, Longshaw Estate on March 12th, and the Awel Aman Tawe award at Pontardawe in late Feb – although that’s perhaps a bit far away.

Then the Sheffield Poetry Festival and its fringe in late March and early April (the festival proper starts on April 1st) has me down potentially for a poetry walk and a garden party (for Art in the Park), a rather exciting event from the Tuesday Poets called “Out of Place”, a reading as part of the celebration of ten years of Matter, and then our annual MA students’ reading, too, although that’s not really part of the festival, I guess.

Then there’s also the open mike Speakeasy next week, which I haven’t been to for ages; and I’ve been asked to read at “Unquiet Desperation”, a local poetry get together.  Finally, I’m working on an installation of children’s autumn haiku for the Winter Gardens, due to be installed in the first week of Feb, and then repeated with a variation as “Four Seasons” again the in the Winter Gardens in April.

A busy time. Really nice that my work is being enjoyed, though.

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Well, up to a point. I’m told that eco-poetics may be as critical of landscape poetry as containing it – something I intend to read up. For the moment, I’m just reporting two more brilliant starts to the new year.

The Awel Aman Tawe Poetry Competition was for a poem on climate change ( http://www.awelamantawe.co.uk/ ). Judge Gillian Clarke gave my poem “Erosion” 3rd prize, and also decided a second poem, “Pluvial” should be one of 24 in the competition anthology. I guess this will only be a little publication, but pleasing nevertheless.

Meanwhile, although I’ve not heard officially, I’m told that two of my haiku for the Moorland Flowers competition are runners up (Bilberry and Cottongrass). This was a smaller competition, but pleases me more, partly because it’s local (run by the Ward’s Croft Moorland Garden at the Moorland Discovery Centre, Longshaw: http://www.walkmag.co.uk/news/poetry-prose/ ) and partly because the prize for the two poems is for them to be turned into plaques for the garden, which is the closest I’ve yet come to “public art”. One of my writerly ambitions is to make a small mark on my home town (more than mere graffiti, I mean!)

I guess I’m not supposed to say which yet, but I’ve one of the prizes at the Newark competition, which is a great way to start the New Year. The prize giving and reading is on Saturday 22nd, 10.00-12.00, Methodist Chapel, Chapel Lane, Farndon, Newark. I’m sure they’ll be keen for you to drop in.

The prize-winning poem is “Before Morning Comes”, another slightly off the wall piece. For reasons that I simply don’t understand, it seems that such poems occur to me with relative ease, although getting them into a balanced form takes the usual rounds of revision, self-satisfaction, and then an extensive period of proper revision.

The Newark Poetry Society is at http://www.newarkpoetrysociety.co.uk/newarkpoetrysociety.co.uk/Welcome.html