Thursday, April 24, 2014

It's coming up to the end of my nine months of being mentored by Vicki Feaver which was part of the very generous package put together by the Scottish Book Trust. It's been a wonderfully encouraging, stretching experience.

When asked by the SBT who would be my dream mentor (within travelable distance), I mentioned Vicki Feaver without genuinely expecting to be paired with her and was utterly surprised and delighted when I found out that she had agreed to do it. Every couple of months since last July I've been making my way through to Edinburgh to Vicki's flat and spent the afternoon with her poring over the poems I had written for our meeting as well as some poems by contemporary poets that we had brought to share.

Apart from the week I spent on Pascal Petit's course this was the first time I really had any experience of face-to-face thorough input from someone on my work so it was initially incredibly nerve-wracking. What I wanted from the mentoring was help to extend, open up my poems and develop the voice in my poems. It's been so good to have someone there to check with what exactly is and isn't working in my poems and it's given me the confidence to expand my writing knowing I'll get the all-important feedback on it.

Vicki herself is incredibly intelligent and astute as well as being a very generous and good-humoured mentor - I really don't think I could have had better. The pressure to keep writing in order to produce poems for our meetings has helped to make me much more of a disciplined reader and writer. Regular blogging is one of the things I've had to let by the wayside in order to keep my creative energies focused on writing. The challenge after our last meeting will be on keeping up the momentum and self-discipline.

The exciting news is.... my book has come back from the printers and now I'm just waiting for my author copies to be posted up to me.
Now that Paris is out of the way I'll be planning the Glasgow launch which will be held in Tell it Slant - Glasgow's new poetry bookshop on Renfrew Street, 7pm on Friday 15th May. Also reading at the launch will be Ross Wilson, Katherine Sowerby and Samuel Tongue - very much looking forward to it!

I have a poem from Tree Language up on Colin Will's Open Mouse here.


Jim Murdoch said...

Not that I ever expect to have the opportunity but I cannot imagine who I would want to mentor me. Anyone I might’ve considered is long dead. When I was starting out I did bitch a bit about how everyone played their cards so close to their chests. No one seemed to want to talk about how to write a poem and that included my hero, Philip Larkin, whose advice—not that it’s actually bad advice since it’s what I ended up doing anyway—was read poems and think about why they work until you make some sense out it. Now I’ve found my voice (certainly as far as the poetry goes) and am pretty happy with it. I don’t know anyone who writes like me so I guess going it alone didn’t do me any real harm even if it was a bit lonely. As far as me mentoring someone else I did do it once and actually it turned out okay.

Marion McCready said...

In terms of confidence building it's been hugely important for me - I wonder if that's partly a female thing, that need of affirmation.