I’m just considering whether to enter the Torriano competition this year, and surprised to discover I’ve one, or possibly two, poems listedin the “Nearly Made it – deserved to” category (i.e. the top 30 of 800), last year. “Gennel” definitely made it, and “Fin” might have – I can’t tell if the mistake is in my name, or in the placing of the titles. Hopefully the latter – though I quite like the double-barrelled “Noel Williams-Fin”.

Oh, and I recently received my copy of Orbis #169. I wasn’t involved in editing issue #168 so that Out of Breath could be reviewed, and Carole kindly published two poems of mine, which helped support the review. Issue #168 confirms that I won the Readers’ Vote, which is very gratifying, if a little embarassing, with a poem called ‘Night Scented Stock’, from a sequence I wrote in 2013, but have not yet tried to secure publication for. Maybe I should.

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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!

Well, not quite at Dove Cottage, because that would both be astounding (to read where Wordsworth stood!) and pretty much impossible with any audience larger than five. Instead it’s for the Wordsworth Trust at the Jerwood Centre, part of the Wordsworth Museum.

I’ll be reading as a member of the Poetry Business Writing School – we come to the end of our eighteen months together with a grand reading here at Grasmere this coming Sunday, 2nd March: 2.30 to 3.30.

It’s a free event, and you’ll hear Jim Caruth, Jennifer Copley, Lydia Harris, Fokkina McDonnell, Jane McKie, Kim Moore, Alan Payne, Paul Stephenson, Pam Thompson, Liz Venn, David Wilson, Gina Wilson and River Wolton, along with yours truly. This group is a truly gifted set of poets, positively swimming in prizes and publications, and a very varied bunch, too. You’ll hear largely new poems written during the Writing School and some recently published.

Full details here about the Jerwood Centre reading 

I’ve now a firm date for the launch of Out of Breath.

It’s Tuesday, March 25th, at Waterstones, Orchard Square, Sheffield. The event starts at 6.30 and will finish a little after 8.00.

As well as me reading from the new collection (that phrase still seems strange, almost a hostage to fortune) I’ve asked a some of our brilliant local poets and friends to help me out, reading from their own work as well as mine. At the moment, Sally Goldsmith and Suzannah Evans are firm bookings. There’ll be at least one other voice.

If you know me, you’ll probably be inundated with invitations to this event. My first collection! Seems impossible.

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.