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. 

I heard today that The Journal has nominated my poem, “Behind Kibuye Church”, for the 2014 Forward Prize. That’s my fourth nomination, which is always pleasing though, of course, the competition is fierce and there are quite a few magazines allowed to nominate. Obviously, there’ll be many more people nominated for the Single Poem competition than for the collection. I suppose there’s an outside chance my collection could be nominated as “First Collection”, though I don’t think this has ever happened to a Cinnamon book.

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).

In rapid succession:

  • just heard from Cinnamon that I was one of six finalists in their poetry collection award, but didn’t quite get to the final two for publication, which is disappointing but still encouraging;
  • then received my copies of the latest anthology In Terra Pax (in which I’ve three poems) which, as usual, has a great mix of quality poems and stories, including one by my good friend Tricia Durdey;
  • then received two books from Cinnamon for review in Orbis, both of which rather tempt me to do the job myself: Will Kemp’s Nocturnes (I’ve admired Will’s work for some while, even though he keeps knocking me back in competitions) and Omar Sabbagh’s The Square Root of Beirut, a new voice to me, but one which appears on first reading to connect intelligent insight with sensitive originality.

On Wednesday we arranged a small launch event for the Cinnamon Press anthology “The Visitors”, at Blackwells in Sheffield. A little over twenty people turned up, and seemed to have a very good time. I’d managed to get generous permission from several of the contributors to have their work read, and three contributors read their own work. Here’s the programme:

Reader Author Piece
Tricia Durdey   Welcome
Kate Rutter Anne Caldwell Walk in the Park, You can say what you like to the dead
Angelina Ayers Aisling Tempany Five of us Together, Prydferth
Fay Musselwhite Marcus Smith 58 Dead in England, Driving around
Lorna Festa Margaret Wilmot The New Café
Kate Rutter Diana Gittins Repulsive II, Hale New Moon Bopp
Fay Musselwhite Judith Watts Smiling Torso/Laughing Buttocks
Noel Williams Annie Bien Beneath night, Heart
Will Kemp Will Kemp Wolf, The Painters who studied clouds
Tricia Durdey Tricia Durdey The Visitors
Noel Williams Noel Williams Return to High Force, Snow on the Edge

 

Thanks to everyone who took part or came along to support us. And particular thanks to Blackwells, and Sarah, Angelina and Beverley for hosting the event. Go along there and buy a couple of books!