The Shrewsbury Poetry night will always be one of my favourite poetry events. It’s where I first got on stage to do an open mic slot, and it runs every month. After moving to Cheshire, I couldn’t attend as often as I liked, and sporadic attendance turned into complete absence. The lockdown helped here as it was one of the events that moved online. What had previously involved an hour and a half drive either way, suddenly dropped to the time it took to open my laptop and click on a zoom link. I got to see old friends, and read in a familiar setting, even if we weren’t technically in the same room. I was able to wear anything I wanted to, including pyjamas and a blanket. You can wear pretty much whatever you want to a poetry event. The limitations come less from a dress code and more from the venue. Cafes and pubs don’t pose much of an issue no matter the season, while events in community halls can be a little chilly if the heating isn’t on and it’s the middle of winter. If you find yourself in an old church, or a market hall, the heating might not cut it even if it’s switched on.
Since restrictions were lifted, Shrewsbury Poetry has gone hybrid. One month in person, one month online, alternating as the months go. This February was the second in-person event since Covid struck the UK, and I was finally home. Back in a room watching poets with the people who had given me the courage to pursue poetry beyond scribbling in journals, and posting a few bits online. I was thrilled.
Building a career as a writer is always going to involve rejection and I’m no stranger to it. About mid-way through 2020 I decided I was going to start submitting properly to literary journals and websites which is a guarantee that I’d quickly find myself very well acquainted with ‘thanks, but no thanks’ emails. I’d sent off work before 2020 (as you can see by my pre-2020 publications), but this was the point I started keeping track of where, and what I was writing in a spreadsheet.
I was lucky. The first poem on my spreadsheet (Credit Card Gal) was published by The Fieldstone Review, the Daily Drunk then accepted ‘When Medusa Goes Shopping’, and my short story ‘For The Love of Jellyfish’ ranked as a finalist in the London Independent Story Prize. In total, I sent out 14 submissions to journals, prizes, and competitions, and got back three publications.
Part of being a modern poet; is social media but as I said in my last blog, I’m crap at blogging on a regular schedule. This failing extends to my social media accounts (TikTok, Instagram, Twitter). Over the past year, I’ve slowly got my head around what I’m supposed to do with Instagram. I’ve even gotten past the initial terror of filming myself for TikTok. While my focus has shifted to those platforms, I’ve wondered what to do with this site. Part of me is keen on the whole, hit delete and start again– except that would be twelve years of work down the drain and not particularly fair on the followers who keep coming back each time my lazy arse remembers to put together something to post.
Outside the sky has shifted to tin, but the rain holds off
even as the clouds buckle
thick bellies heavy against the horizon,
beached mothers in their slow, sloping movements.
A tremor that might be a plane, or a kick, or my imagination
is proof enough of life.
I needed proof today.
The world has emptied, drained out while I slept
still damp along the edges but vacant.
I need the sky to fill me up.
After chapter six I get distracted, put the book down, and leave it
on a shelf with likeminded volumes of good intentions
I mean to come back to.
Ursa Major makes a den for itself among scattered thoughts
hibernates until night unfolds, then The Great Bear yawns
stirs like memory and steps into the sky.
It takes the right kind of observation, to find binary stars.
They huddle so close that they obscure their own pairings,
burn as a single pinpoint to the naked eye.
Two magnitudes in perpetual orbit, moving as one,
two halves of a whole, it is easy to paint a romance on devotion
so far removed.
Our sun is solitary, though not extraordinarily so, or oddly so.
Stars (I read) are loners just as often as couples
And it makes no difference to their brightness.
There is nothing wrong with a little loneliness.
Sometimes the only light you need is the one you hold
sometimes space is what makes you seen.
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