Poetry and NYC Midnight

We’re almost halfway through June. How did that happen?

The month kicked off with a poetry at the Button Warehouse. (Normally hosted by Joy Winkler but covered this month by John Lindley). Angela Topping was guest poet, and gave fantastic readings at the start of each half from her various collections. Then the evening was turned over to the open mic, and I ended up closing the evening out with ‘Legs Eleven’ from my collection ‘It’s All In The Blood’. This was probably my favourite performance of the year so far as the atmosphere was fantastic, I made it through the poem without stumbling, and even sold a copy of my book. 

 The following evening I was one of the featured readers on the Shrewsbury Poetry zoom. Ten whole minutes to read poems and give a bit of detail on what the collection was about, and how it came into being. The chaos of 2020 and 2021 resulted in the book not seeing the light of day as much as I would have liked, so I’ve been trying to make up for lost opportunities.

While not technically a June achievement, as it fell into the last ten minutes of May, I managed to get the reworked version of my short story sent off to the Bridport Prize. What was originally a 1,500 words piece of fiction now closes off at almost 5,000. With ten minutes to go before the deadline struck, I had to sacrifice some of the edits I wanted to make in order to actually have something submitted. As with all the competitions I enter, I’m not holding out much hope of placing, but I feel as if I get a lot out of entering. Who knows, I didn’t think I would do very well in the London Independent Story Prize and my entry was a Selected Finalist. As many of my writing friends like to remind me, there’s a slim chance of winning whatever you enter, but no chance if you don’t send anything off. Write, edit, submit, and eventually something should stick. 

On the poetry submissions front, I’ve finally heard back on the last of my outstanding 2021 submissions. It was another rejection to add to the pile, but on the bright side, I can now mark last year’s spreadsheet as closed. June also appears to be the month of reading windows for poetry journals so I’m busy putting together a set of submissions to go out before the 30th. The biggest of those will be the manuscript for ‘Stone Tongued’ which I’m planning on sending to Fawn Press. Currently I have six poems out for consideration, with two different journals, so I’m in a good position to redraft my rejected pieces and get some new bits sent out. Friday was a relatively productive day when it came to reworking those poems that have bounced back to me time and time again. Eventually they will find homes, but until then I will keep working on them. 

Those poems might have to wait until tomorrow though, as this weekend it is the first challenge, in the first round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest! I’ve entered this particular challenge a few times. One year I places quite well in the first challenge, only to flop dramatically in the second. Another year I wrote my story for the first challenge, realised the location was wrong and it would get kicked for not following the prompt, and had to hammer out a second with a few hours to go. The second story got some really mixed feedback from the judges, and the first (which didn’t get sent off due to the location issue) ended up being my entry to the London Independent Story Prize. (So as I mentioned, there is more to entering competitions that just the competitions themselves.) 

This time around I’ve been given the genre, fairy-tale, the location of river rapids, and the item that must be included in the story is a scooter. Those first two I can work with, they even sort of make sense when mushed together in a 1,000 word story, but why? Why, oh why you cruel writing gods? Did you put scooter as the object?

I think I’ve made it work. I think… Either way, I now have a piece of flash fiction that’s just over a 1,000 words and I’ve got the rest of today to edit it into shape. (If you were wondering what task I’m using this blog post as procrastination for, then you’ve finally found it.)

I’m also in need of a title for my story, and I’m probably going to aim for something relatively fairy-tale-esq in case I end up getting the same feedback as I did on the last fairy-tale I tried to write. “Not quite fairy-tale enough”. 

*Grumbles quietly*. 

So before I wile away the remaining hours of my Sunday, moaning about not quite hitting the writing mark, I’m going to hit post on this blog, and go edit my story. Until the next time I want to avoid writing, I wish you all the best with whatever projects you have on this weekend. May the words flow, and someone else put the kettle on for you! Happy writing. 

Ten Years Learning How To Be A Poet – Part Four: Does Poetry Need To Rhyme? Does Form and Rhyme Make A Poem A Poem?

Does poetry need to rhyme? I’ve touched on this topic before and received quite a bit of feedback from other poets on WordPress, more so than I would normally receive on these style of posts. It’s a conversation that sparks debate in poetry groups of Facebook as well. I notice it cropping up when poets are asked “what piece of feedback have you received and chosen to ignore.”

In secondary school, I started writing poetry and I shared one of my poems with a friend. Her response was limited to ‘it doesn’t rhyme’, and with that she declared it wasn’t really a poem. It was an experience that taught me how black and white opinions around art can be. Something is a poem, or it isn’t, and the criteria to make it so is very specific. In reality, poetry occupies a strange spectrum where the style on one end, is utterly removed from the style at the other. Everything in-between is still poetry.

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Red Lipped Garden #DVersepoets #Quadrille

Despite the hosing,
stems still cling to their cobwebs.
Strands draped between limbs,
threads quivering in a threat to untangle.
Roses grow thirsty again in a moment,
stripped out of their petals
heat caught up on their thorns.
A lessening, in want of more.

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Roses

The Rosebush outside my kitchen window. 

Trickle Down – Working On Writing During Lock-down

At the start of this year I was planning on which poetry events I wanted to go to in order to publicise my new collection ‘It’s All In The Blood‘. I managed a few local ones, and had a slot booked to perform at a Ludlow poetry night, right at the beginning of March. Then 2020 hit its stride in the UK.

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When The Histories Speak Of Revolt

Misfortune comes in sets of threes,

but recently I’ve lost count of the omens

darkening these skies.

 

Understanding is important,

but so is justice, and memory to carry change

past the span of sympathetic anger.

 

All power in this world is man-made,

the bricks still sticky with greased fingerprints.

We were supposed to know better.

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