Thursday, May 30, 2013

Meant to add...

I've finally created myself a (very basic) webpage. Plus had five poems accepted by Shearsman Magazine and been shortlisted for something that I can't say anything more about (for now)! It's been a crazy busy year poetry-wise so far for someone like me who doesn't normally get out much!

Reading at the moment includes Pascale Petit (of course!), Selima Hill, Alice Oswald, Robert Minhinnick and Louise Gluck. I've been on a Jen Hadfield phase since I was at Cove park and still keep coming back to her poems.

In the Chateau Ventenac library I came across this lovely oldish Bloodaxe anthology of women poets which features interviews/detailed bios and comments from each of the women included (Stevie Smith, Kathleen Raine, Denise Levertov, Elizabeth Jennings, Elaine Feinstein, Ruth Fainlight, Sylvia Plath, Jenny Joseph, Anne Stevenson, Fleur Adcock, and Jeni Couzyn) which made fascinating reading as well as a great choice of the respective poets' poems.
I've also been loving making use of the free books on the kindle, particularly enjoying reading H.D.'s Hymen and Sea Garden collections and Men, Women and Ghosts by Amy Lowell.

 It became obvious to me from the very first group workshop in France that I don't pay enough attention to the 'voice' of a poem or fully extending my voice in my poems. This comes mainly from having never been part of a in-the-flesh workshopping group. My poems end up becoming tight little image-strong pieces with little room for the voice to speak. I always read aloud my poems as I write but that's always been to pay attention to sound and rhythm rather than voice. This has been so important for me to grasp a hold of because I feel it's a tangible way I can move forward in my poems and write better. Since I've come back I've been reading poems differently, paying attention to the voice rather than going straight to the images.
So the week before France I suddenly realised I had realistically enough poems for a full-length collection and used the deadline of a first collection competition to force me to put them together and order them and come up with a title. When I spread all of the poems out I found that they fell naturally into four sections which made the ordering job so much easier. I gave each section it's own title and one section title became the whole collection title. All of this has put far too much pressure on the little title poem whose title seemed representative of many of the poems in the collection rather than being picked for being my best, strongest poem. However it is exciting to think I have the possibility of a collection together and a collection structure to work on and of course I want to throw my new France poems into it and other ones I'm working on at the moment.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Irises by the canal
So France has come and gone like a dream and I had the most wonderful time. My first real experience of  real-life (as opposed to on-line) poetry work-shopping and it was terrifying!! Yet everyone was so friendly and it was such a great group of writers and Pascale Petit exceeded my (high) expectations in every way!
The Chateau Ventenac was perfect and gorgeous and comfortable, our host, Julia, was friendly and efficient and wonderful at accommodating our every request. The scenery was like stepping into a painting, the food delicious, the wine too. There's not a single part of it I wouldn't heartily recommend.
 Most mornings Pascale would set up a writing exercise for us and in the afternoons we all had a couple of one-to-one sessions for individual feedback on our poems. One evening Pascale gave us a reading of some of her recent poems which will be published in her new collection due out next year. On the last evening we all had the opportunity to read our poems from the week in front of a small audience followed by champagne! There were ten of us on the course and I feel so lucky to have met them and be part of such a great group of writers. Most of all, what a privilege it was to hear Pascale read her wonderful poems in such an intimate setting and to have her edit my little poems was a tremendously encouraging experience.It was such an incredibly stimulating week, I've learned so much from the other writers as well as Pascale, I think it'll take me a while to process it all and come back down to earth!

The Canal du Midi
View from the writing desk in my room
Canal du Midi flowing in front of the Chateau Ventenac
Roses in the garden of the Chateau Ventenac