Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year of Poetry - The End (Part 2)

As noted in this post at mid year, I really did hit my goals by the six month stage.  

Just to jog your memory here's what I had set out for myself:

I want to exceed publication credits for this year (2015) so that's 4 + published poems.  I want to write at least 12 poems of publishable quality.  I want to increase my own poetic understanding through reading technical material and through reading of other's good poetry.
Publication Credits

I finished the year with 9 publications: 3 of which were paid, 3 of which I received a contributor copy for and 3 of which appeared on quality unpaid websites/journals.  I would have liked to have had more obviously but I did take up full time work in the second half of the year.

NB. It's occurred to me that three of the above were accepted for publication and intended to be published in 2015 (The Poetry and Place Anthology) but that didn't occur until April 2016.  So if I am being super strict I still managed to exceed last year's publications.

Publishable Quality

Or poems I judged deserved the name and thought worthy of an attempt to publish.  I wrote about 42 poems, some of which will never see the light of day.  I submitted 27 poems but that figure includes sending out a poem more than once.  A brief overview of what I have in my 2016 folder and I am comfortable claiming about 18 for the year.

Poetic Understanding

This is the surprise area for me.  You think there's only so much you can learn about the art to find it's an almost endless field of study.  I was worried that I might run out of technical information but I realised that aspect is only a number of many when it comes to Poetry.  The biggest area of learning was in the growth of appreciation for the art of the line.

Rejections versus Acceptances

Looking at the graph below and having read what others have done this year I am pretty happy with this effort.


Where to from here?

I really don't know. I have established a good practice and want to maintain it. This year sees me back on a part time contract so I will certainly have the time.

Some commenters have suggested I release more poetry on the blog and if  blog starts are right, my poetry, when released does tend to cause brief spikes in attention. I am reticent though -writing for paid publication figures somewhat in this but also my tendency to publish too early i.e. while still under the influence/glow of self perceived poetic genius.

One definite is the intention to increase reading time - switch places with study time in times of overall breakdown for the reasons I stated in the previous post.

I'd also like to work harder on monthly reflections, going back over what I have learned and really encoding that learning.  Less time during the last half of the year meant this part of the practise dropped off.

Other observations

A significant learning experience for me was coming to understand how I work creatively and how I think ( or how my thinking can get in the way).  Writing reflections daily and weekly really enabled me to see very clearly how my attitudes to the work ebbed and flowed and how this really wasn't connected to the quality of the work.

I now find myself further away from wanting to rush out and get a pamphlet or first collection together.  It just doesn't seem to matter that much anymore. The practice and the daily achievement of writing seems to be more important.

Feel free to comment and suggestions, even your own observations.

Happy New Year




Year of Poetry - The End (Part 1)

Well.

Here we are at the end of the Year of Poetry Project.  In this post I'll go through the week's achievements and the do another as a post mortem.

This week being that strange period between Christmas and New Year's where one loses track of days, I managed to avoid writing until Thursday.

To be fair though, one of those days was without power due to violent storms and with an inside temp of close to 30 degrees I spent it lying in the coolest spot I could find in the house.

I also got one more rejection this week leaving only one other poem out in the wild trying to find a home.

The Writing...

I won't lie.  With the end of the year and the end of the project approaching I was finding it hard settling down to start any writing.  This combined with late nights and even later mornings really curtailed the time I had for a solid mental workout.

But I returned to the teaching/learning obtained through this process (peaks and troughs) and forged on.  This combined with me taking up a short morning meditation practice seemed to improve things and today I finished on a high, shaping a poem to a nearly final state.




The Study...

I made a conscious decision to let the study taper off this week in favour of further close readings as I think I tend to get more out of seeing poetic techniques/decisions in action (though the study has been very useful). Thus my only study was more reading of William Stafford's You Must Revise Your Life.


Close Reading...

Figuring I should finish off the year with an Australian Poet, I flipped  through this year's Best Australian Poems  and settled on the last, an Australian/American poet called Billy Marshall Stoneking.  

I thought One Last Poem, a fitting title on which to end the project and through one of those weird quirks of life discovered that he lived in Central Australia at the time I was growing up and sadly like a number of artists this year, left us in July.

You can read the poem here.



For the Statbadgers:


Total time: 10:08 (457:08) hrs


poem writing =6:50 (214:48) hrs

close reading =1:10(87:15) hrs

technique/theory= 0:38 (105:13) hrs

reflection = 1:30(40:04) hrs



Poetry written:

1(42) poems completed


2(21)poems in draft


Poems Submitted:


0(27 in total) poems



Poems Published:


0(9) poems



Live Performances:
0(2)


Interviews:
0(1)


Rejections:

1(16) poems

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Year of Poetry Update - Week 51

So only one week to go... Where did that time go? 

Seriously!  

At the start of the year it really did look like quite a hill to climb.  Now, a week before I conduct the big review of the project it seems to have gone by in an instant.

This week was not quite the return to 14 hours writing that I wanted, but coming in at just over 8 hours I will not beat myself up - or rather, I will, but will endeavour to let it go.

I received a number of early Christmas presents to myself this week -  Stephen Mathews (Ginninderra Press) must have been camped next to the Australia Post distribution centre because I received the poetry pamphlets I ordered last Friday, midweek.

If you don't think that's unusual, remember I live in the midst of wheat fields where taking the bin out requires a 24 km round trip.

The pamphlet collections included  Immediate Reflections from Martin Christmas that I mentioned in last week's post and Jude Aquilina's Ship Tree and Other Poems.

And yesterday I received William Stafford's You Must Revise Your Life - the first chapter of which contained some timely wisdom for the writing life.  It also encouraged me to track down the Poets on Poetry series (there goes next year's poetry budget).

I received two rejections this week as well but this didn't seem to annoy me as much as the difficulty with writing.


The Writing...

felt much harder than it usually does.  This was probably because I am coming off the end of year party circuit and managed to get into some bad sleeping patterns. There was also a sense of dissatisfaction-leaning-towards-frustration, that the extra hours writing didn't lead to the "best poem ever written".  

I really hadn't felt that sort of trough in the process for some time.  I suspect that is because I haven't really had the time and space to get down on my process of writing with the move to full time teaching in the second half of this year.

But the very next day I found my way around those demons, proving once again that my process works. I suspect this pattern will continue/does continue throughout all writers lives - peaks and troughs linked more to the writers emotional state than to what is actually written on the page.

I had chosen to rewrite an earlier variation on a Petrarchan Sonnet, so the sort of workout being restricted by rhyme schemes gives me, probably played into that sense of frustration. 



The Study...

I continued reading Frances Mayes'  The Discovery of Poetry - A field Guide to Reading and Writing Poem and the section on sonnets inspired me to tackle a rewrite of the poem mentioned above.

I also read the first chapter of You Must Revise Your Life . What was interesting to read, was that Stafford, who won a number of awards and had a distinguished teaching an publishing career estimated that 80% of the work he submitted was rejected.

Close Reading...

Read Kim Moore's, Picnic on Stickle Pike from the Art of Falling, an interesting poem set in the Lake District that plays around with what is considered beautiful and natural in the landscape.


Merry Xmas

If you subscribe to this post by email you will be receiving a Christmas email from me in addition to the weekly digest containing a new poem that I was playing around with.



For the Statbadgers:


Total time: 8:03 (447:00) hrs


poem writing =4:03 (207:58) hrs

close reading =1:25(86:05) hrs

technique/theory= 1:43 (104:35) hrs

reflection = 0:52(38:34) hrs



Poetry written:

0(41) poems completed


2(21)poems in draft


Poems Submitted:


0(27 in total) poems



Poems Published:


0(9) poems



Live Performances:
0(2)


Interviews:

0(1)


Rejections:

2(15) poems

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Andrew McMillan on the Scottish Poetry Library Podcast

Another podcast just in time for Christmas.  This one features Yorkshire born poet Andrew McMillan. It covers McMillan's teaching and poet Thom Gunn.



Download mp3 here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Close reading: Charles Bernstein's "In a Restless World Like This Is"

Here is a Christmas present from Alice Allan and Eleanor Smagarinsky, via the Poetry Says feed. Alice has put in a solid year delivery about 20 entertaining poetry podcasts. Here we get to put a face to the voice.

Enjoy

 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

New Email Subscription Option

You may have noticed that the Subscribe by Email gadget in the column to your right has changed or you may not, I can count the number of people who subscribe to the blog on one hand and from my blog stats I can see most folks access the blog from Facebook.

So it may not mean much to you.

But after reading some articles I was convinced to do away with the Feedburner service that has been left to die a long and lonely death by Google and instead use the free Mailchimp service.

This means initially, that my blog posts for the week will be aggregated and sent in one post on Saturday evening to my 8 email subscribers (before they word have received a post on the day it was written)in a digest.

Next year though I thought I might try and offer a couple of services like a Poetry Bargains Newsletter with free shipping codes, and links to cheap poetry collections once a month.

Feel free to sign up for the general blog newsletter at the moment I'll probably create a separate form and list for Poetry Bargains.

I disagree with Billy Collins

After the Year of Poetry project, I find I have to disagree with Billy Collins (at least in part).  Over at Harriet - The Poetry Foundation blog, he's reported to have answered a fan who asked the question:

How would someone who wants to become a poet get started?”

with


Reading, Collins answered — lots and lots of reading. He cited Malcolm Gladwell’s famous “10,000 hours” benchmark as a good standard.

Now this I agree with(the reading), the 10,000 hours is a bit much though.  I have done about 84 hours of Close Reading this year comprised of about 67-68 poems. I read probably 5 times as many poems last year and it didn't have anywhere near as much effect on my writing.  I also followed my interests or poems that sparked my interest.

So reading yes, but more attentive reading-  as much as you can manage while writing at the same time.  If you restrict yourself to reading for 10,000 hours before you write, you'll kill the spark. Besides half the fun is getting things wrong, making mistakes and fixing them.

“It’s such dull advice. There’s no key to it,” he said. “It really lies in the simple act of reading tons of poetry. And I mean not just stuff you find in magazines but if you really want to be trained in poetry you need to read Milton — you need to read Paradise Lost. You need to read Wordsworth — you need to read Wordsworth’s ‘Prelude.'”
I begin to think that Collins is attempting to kill off the competition here(which he probably isn't). This comes across to me as having to read "The Canon"  which I think will have the same effect as having to read for 10,000 hours.

I'd encourage reading Milton and Wordsworth, but more so as part of an anthologised and annotated collection - Frances Mayes' The Discovery of Poetry - A field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems does a good job of providing an historical context as well as choosing poems from across the wide field of history to illustrate points/techniques.

“That’s if you want to take it seriously. If you don’t want to take it seriously, you can just get a 79-cent pen and express yourself,” he laughed. “No one’s gonna read it with any pleasure because … you haven’t paid attention to what happened in the past.”

If you want to take Poetry seriously, you have to love and enjoy it. Hence my preference for following your interests. In the long run you have to love the act itself because the praise is generally small and fleeting.

So my advice:


  • Read the poetry that sparks an interest in you, these poets and poems will lead on to others.
  • Read the work closely - this is the real joy of a good poem, finding small condensed poem bombs that explode with imagery, meaning and sound.
  • Write. Write bad poetry until it becomes less bad, work out why it doesn't work, listen to your own words.
  • Study, anything written about poetry by poets in the last 3000 years,  generally these folks are good at condensing the important information.
  • Read, write, study at the same time, not simultaneously but you shouldn't wait until you have read 68 poems before you start writing.  These activities will set off chain reactions in one another that will lead to more of each.
  • Start doing it all today - now even.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Year of Poetry Update - Week 50

I would like to say that in the final week of school that I managed to find some extra hours to devote to the poetry page but that would be a lie - though looking at the stats I did mange fractionally more than last week. 

End of year parties involving a "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer" mankini intervened as well a a substantial bar tab.

I did mange to collect a rejection from a major Australian poetry publisher and sent off two more poems for consideration. There's a few other poems out in circulation but I'd say that its pretty much a wrap for The Year of Poetry publication wise.

A friend of also announced the release of a pamphlet collection and if your are keen to support an emerging poet and good photographer please make your way to the Ginninderra Press website and check out Immediate Reactions by Martin Christmas.


The Writing...

Finished off revising another draft and began a "Misty Cow" poem for a poet friend - here's hoping I get it done for Christmas.

The Study...

Managed about 30 minutes noting Frances Mayes' ideas on free verse.


Close Reading...

of beer labels occurred but not much else.



For the Statbadgers:


Total time: 3:00 (438:57) hrs


poem writing = 2:00 (203:55) hrs

close reading =0:00(84:40) hrs

technique/theory 0:35 (102:52) hrs

reflection = 0:18(37:42) hrs



Poetry written:

0(41) poems completed


1(20)poems in draft


Poems Submitted:


2(27 in total) poems



Poems Published:


0(9) poems



Live Performances:
0(2)


Interviews:

0(1)


Rejections:

1(13) poems

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Year of Poetry Update - Week 49

Souvenir from the Baudin Exhibition 

This week seemed to fly by with lots of end of year preparations at school.  I spent quite a bit of time working on a poetry booklet of Haiku written by my Year 1-2 students.

Making Poetry Happen and Kim Moore's The Art of Falling also arrived this week, the former being a teaching text for reading and writing poetry in the classroom.  A text that I hope to be able to bring into my teaching next year.

Writing was curtailed somewhat today by preparations for my mother in law's visit and visiting the Maritime Museum in Port Adelaide that featured pieces from the Baudin expedition to Australia. It's currently travelling the country and will be in Tasmania at the beginning of next year.


The Writing...

was limited to last Sunday, where I decided to revise another of my recent poems. The month or so break from having written it was worthwhile and I was able to bring a fresh set of eyes to it.

The Study...

zip, zero, decided to concentrate on Naomi Shihab Nye's poem.



Close Reading...

I completed reading Naomi Shihab Nye's, The Books We Haven't Touched in Years, and found it so good that I spent, all up, about 2 hours writing my thoughts about it.



For the Statbadgers:


Total time: 2:44 (435:57) hrs


poem writing = 1:30 (201:55) hrs

close reading =1:04(84:40) hrs

technique/theory 0:00 (102:17) hrs

reflection = 0:20(37:24) hrs



Poetry written:

0(41) poems completed


0(19)poems in draft


Poems Submitted:


0(25 in total) poems



Poems Published:


0(9) poem



Live Performances:
0(2)


Interviews:

0(1)


Rejections:

0(12) poems

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Interview: Naomi Shihab Nye

I purchased Naomi Shihab Nye's "Tender Spot" earlier in the year and am currently enjoying completing a couple of close readings on her poems. This video is a short piece on the importance and the power of poetry. Please enjoy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A bit of good news for the end of the year.



It's been a shit year for a lot of people in my circles (writing and arts) so it's with no small feeling of joy that I can pass on the good news that Verity La has been able to raise funds to pay its contributors next year.

They have been running since 2010 as a free to read, on-line, no profit, creative arts journal, publishing short fiction and poetry, cultural comment, photo-media, reviews, and interviews.

In a month or so they managed to raise $5592 with the help of the Australian Cultural Fund and generous supporters. 

So here's to a great 2017 with the Verity La crew. 

And if you haven't read them, check out the website or listen to one of their great podcasts

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Year of Poetry Update - Month 12

This last week nearly killed me (shakes fist at 2016).  But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Spring turned on its charm for my writing day, unfortunately most of that day saw me lending moral support to my other half as she volunteered at a local gallery.

I nursed a headache and put up with visitors who seem to have no understanding that writing and reading are activities which should not be interrupted (Barbarians!).

Somehow I managed to get in 3 hours work.

Only a month to go in the year of poetry and thankfully I will have some time to sit down and do some serious reflecting.



The Writing...

was short and painful.  I reworked a poem for most of that time, experimenting with structure mostly.

The Study...
was more of a refresher. I read the Frances Mayes' Chapters on Metrical and Free Verse in  The Discovery of Poetry - A field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems

Close Reading...

I began Naomi Shihab Nye's, The Books We Haven't Touched in Years.



For the Statbadgers:


Total time: 3:12 (433:13) hrs


poem writing = 1:00 (200:25) hrs

close reading =0:27(83:36) hrs

technique/theory 1:20 (102:17) hrs

reflection = 0:25(37:04) hrs



Poetry written:

0(41) poems completed


0(19)poems in draft


Poems Submitted:


0(25 in total) poems



Poems Published:


0(9) poem



Live Performances:
0(2)


Interviews:

0(1)


Rejections:

0(12) poems

Me attempting Sonnet 116 in Original Pronunciation

I decided to have a little pre-christmas fun and attempt to read Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 in Original Pronunciation.

The first performance is me attempting to channel a Bad Devon Farmer (I have no idea if it is actually a Devon accent) accent and the second is me reading using my natural accent with the OP pronunciations.

Hope I give you a giggle.

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