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.

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Today was the last Sheffield meeting of the Writing School, run by the Poetry Business, in Sheffield, which has been one of the biggest influences, aids and joys of my recent writing. Partly this is down to Ann and Peter Sansom who run and tutor it, partly to the other excellent poets the School brings together to rub shoulders and share words.

We will have a final get-together in Rydal in February, culminating in a reading at the Wordsworth Trust. If you’re around the Lakes then, perhaps you’ll come and hear us.

I recommend the Writing School. It stimulates your work, and puts you in contact with ways of writing you will not have considered before.

I also picked up a copy of River Wolton’s new book, Indoor Skydiving. Not read it yet, but it looks pretty good. And a copy of the latest The North (the Poetry Business poetry magazine), issue #51. I’m pleased with this one, as I’ve two poems in it, and Peter asked me to contribute to their periodic piece “Blind Criticism”, in which poets are invited to critique a poem without author which they’ve never seen before. I was partnered with Helena (“Nell”) Nelson, who runs Happenstance Press and offers sharp, close criticism. This seemed an honour to me, and a little bit scary. Suppose I came up with a critique which slated some well-loved, well-reputed poet? Suppose I disagreed radically with Nell’s view of the poem, was even hostile to it? Suppose I showed how ignorant I was of some style, form, tradition – there are so many and I’m so limited in my knowledge.

As it turned out, I really enjoyed the task, wrote far more than Peter could use, and found my account and Nell’s largely fitted together. And so, looking at it now in print, I’m almost as pleased with it as I am with my two poems: “Late Night, Radio 3” and “To an aubergine”. The latter poem was written in a Writing School workshop. You can maybe get an inkling of the School from this little example.

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.

It’s that time of year again: Sheffield’s Literary Festival, Off the Shelf. 

It’s a busy time for me. Yesterday I read at John Clare’s cottage in Helpston (it turns out I won second prize). The poems are here: http://www.clarecottage.org/poetryprize.htm

Tomorrow (Monday) I’m in an Off the Shelf debate on the Future of the Book. (Sheffield’s Quaker Meeting House, St James St, Mon, 10th Oct, 7.30. Freed admission.)

Weds: we’re running the usual (free, open invitation) poetry workshop at Bank St Arts Centre (12.00 to 3.00, Bank St, Sheffield). If you want to take part, bring copies of a poem to workshop, and we’ll have a discussion of Sean O-Brien’s November, too.
(Also that evening Rachel Genn launches her novel The Cure at Blackwells – should be a pleasant event).

Thursday I’ll be reading on the Speakers Steps at the House of Commons, again for the John Clare competition  – a strange prize, but an exciting one. Around 11.30, I believe, if you’re in the vicinity.

Monday 17th: I’ve a ten minute reading as part of the launch of new mag Uroborus, at Sheffield’s West Street Live (7.30). Another free event.

Weds 19th: Launch of Matter magazine no #11. I was part of the editorial team, but won’t be reading, merely listening to all the fine contributors (including Fay Musselwhite, Angelina Ayers, Rosemary Badcoe – lots of great writers)

Also sometime “real soon now” as they say in the software industry, I hope to have the website of Sheffield’s Public Poetry available for OTS to launch. This is proving harder than I thought to get together, but I think I’ll make it.

If you want to choose other OTS events, you can find a programme at: http://www.offtheshelf.org.uk/programme.php

And whilst all this is going on, Rosemary and I are putting the first fabulous issue of Antiphon together. I think it’s going to be particularly good and will, naturally enough, post a notice when it’s there for your delight and delectation. (Apologies to all poets who’ve not yet had a decision from us: we both need to agree to a poem before including it, and that’s caused a fair series of debates).