Monday 30 December 2019

A UK poetry submission schedule for early 2020

I shall try to submit to several of these (mostly UK) competitions and submission windows -

Wednesday 18 December 2019

A UK/Eire prose submission schedule for early 2020

As more magazines introduce submission windows, and competitions increase their significance, it's worth planning ahead. I shall try to submit to these (mostly UK) competitions and submission windows -

Monday 16 December 2019

My writing year

It began so well. I amassed 5 acceptances in January. By July I'd had 18 prose/poetry acceptances. But in the second half of the year I managed just one acceptance. Rejections have been pouring in.

I wrote 11 poems. 4 might be ok, though some of those are slight. One's been accepted by "Fenland Journal". I wrote 12 stories (about 13,000 words), about half of them decent, amongst them some Flash. In spring I wrote a 3,000 word story which pleased me. Nothing's been accepted yet.

Below are my updated poetry stats -

Other people's stats include

My reading was more fruitful. As usual, I managed to read about 100 books -

  • I'm glad I finally got round to reading short story collections by Claire Keegan, Courttia Newland, Eley Williams and Janice Galloway.
  • It's been a year of flash collections - K.M.Elkes, Meg Pokrass, Gary Duncan, Paul Beckman, etc.
  • Among the poets that impressed were John McCullough.

As much as anything it's been a year when I've given some writers another chance and they've let me down again - Jackie Kay (poems), Tim Dooley, Penelope Lively (her stories), Douglas Dunn (his stories), Tessa Hadley (her stories).

Monday 9 December 2019

Curate's egg poetry

A poem's rarely full of "good" lines. For a start, few lines are good or bad in isolation - their value is affected by context, and their purpose may be to increase the value of other lines rather than be important in themselves. They may provide continuity or background information. A poem needs pacing. It needs lines that act as sounding boards (material for the effect of the good lines to permeate into, in preference to white space).

However, while developing or critiquing a poem we often underscore "bad" lines. If these lines form most or all of a stanza, the stanza's vulnerable. A recognisable unit is easier to delete than part of a whole. This is why short-stanza'd poems are risky - they offer easy targets. Even more so list poems - each item can be individually ticked or crossed.

Readers might gloss over lines they don't like/understand, especially if they adopt a holistic top-down approach. Alternatively, bottom-up readers might assign penalty points or be distracted by lines they perceive as weak. Authors vary too in their attitude to their less good lines. Sometimes their policy is "if in doubt leave it out", taking no risks. Others assume the reader (each according to their own tastes) will do the editing. Avoiding the use of stanzas (or writing a long poem) is a way to stop the weak lines being isolated and picked on.

"Safety first", reader-centric poetry doesn't suit all readers. Nor does daring (aka hit-and-miss?) poetry. I vary in my preferences when reading - though I don't ignore duff lines, I'm prepared to turn a blind eye if there are adequate compensations elsewhere. When writing I'm more of an "if in doubt" person.