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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I’m looking at my diary for the year to come. It’s an exciting year for me.

Early in March I read with the Writing School of The Poetry Business at The Wordsworth Trust’s Jerwood Centre, their wonderful museum next to Dove Cottage at Grasmere. That’s Sunday March 2nd, 2.30.  See HERE 

It’s a free event, so you should come along if you can to hear a great variety of UK poets, namely Jim Caruth, Jennifer Copley, Lydia Harris, Fokkina McDonnell, Jane McKie, Kim Moore, Alan Payne, Paul Stephenson, Pam Thompson, Liz Venn, Noel Williams, David Wilson, Gina Wilson and River Wolton.

Jennifer has recently published Sisters, which will be reviewed in the next Orbis. River published her collection Indoor Skydiving  which I hope to review myself at some point. Both are great books. Kim’s If We Could Speak Like Wolves was one of the most interesting pamphlets published last year, reviewed in the TLS no less. Kim also has one of the liveliest poetry blogs in the UK. Gina, Alan and Jim also have really good pamphlets, though published a couple of years ago now. Gina’s Paper, Scissors, Stone  is quite quirky and very clever. Alan has a particularly good line in the terse personal lyric, as shown in his pamphlet: Exploring the Orinoco. Jim’s Marking the Lambs is full of his soft, compassionate, gentle voice. (You can find my Antiphon review of it here).

Unfortunately my own Out of Breath is unlikely to be around as early as March 2nd. The official launch is planned for Tuesday 25th March at the the welcoming branch of Waterstones in Sheffield’s Orchard Square, who always put on excellent book launches. Starts at 6.30. I’ll make a proper announcement when there’s a publicity sheet to send out.

Rosemary and I have just released the latest issue of Antiphon – number nine – and so we’re into our third year of the magazine.

As always, we’ve a few reviews (of Helen Mort‘s T S Eliot nominated “Division Street”, Al McClimens “The Suicide of John Keats” and Roy Marshall‘s “Sunbathers”), plus another good selection of poems, which we’ve really enjoyed, but we still receive many more submissions that are problematic than good poems, and are a little perplexed about why there aren’t so many good poets submitting from the UK. We think perhaps this is because online magazines are still seen with a little suspicion by poets in the UK, most of whom will always prefer publication in a print journal to an online one.

Still, we’ve a large reader base, lots of pleasant things said about the magazine, and a growing feeling that we’re on the right track. So if you’re a good poet, or you know a good poet, send Antiphon your work, and we’ll hope to publish it.

Antiphon Issue #8 is now up and running. You can find it here.

It’s looking good, I think. There’s more in the Interval section (reviews and articles) than ever before, but it’s the poetry that’s most important, and that also remains excellent.

issue 8 cover

A pleasant surprise fell on our doormat today, unexpectedly. “The Book of Euclid” (Cinnamon Press) arrived with five of my poems in it. These poems helped me win the Cinnamon poetry prize, which will be my first collection. I sent the draft manuscript to Cinnamon last week, with the working title “Out of Breath” and, all being well, it will appear in 2014.

Meanwhile, the news on Antiphon is that our next issue will be a special one designed to support Sheffield’s 2013 Poetry Festival. It will appear in the middle of May, and contain poems from the poets reading at the festival. We’re very excited by this, as it should mean our biggest and best issue yet, and the festival looks likely to be a good event too (June 1 to 8th in Sheffield, UK).

Issue Six of Antiphon is now up and running, ready for your reading pleasure. Find it here.

Rosemary and I feel that every issue is better than before, though it’s hard to know whether that’s true, of course. So we’re asking our readers to let us know which poems in this issue they particularly like. (The poet who gets the most positive feedback will get a special feature on the Antiphon site). You can contact us with feedback through the Antiphon site (antiphon.org.uk) or through Antiphon’s blog, here:

Equally good news is that the 2013 Sheffield Poetry Festival is going ahead. It’s planned for June 1 to 9th, a mix of well known poets, local poets, workshops, readings and unusual events. I’ll be posting the details as they firm up.

Antiphon Issue #1 seems to have been a hit. We were sent some great poems and were able to create a quality issue (see antiphon.org.uk) publishing twenty poems of the 500 we received.

The question is: can we do it again with Issue #2? We’re hoping for more poems, and even higher quality. We want to build a magazine that’s top quality for language and image. We know we’ll have more reviews and articles, but it’s the poetry that really matters. We’re especially keen to promote upcoming poets who are trying hard to get themselves established (because, that’s basically where we are, too).

So, please submit. Send us your very best and help us make Antiphon the best online poetry magazine in the UK.