2013 in poetry

by Clairet

It’s not my habit to use this blog for anything other than briefly-lived projects that go into hiding, but I’ve been increasingly yearning for a place to put longer pieces (my blog over at http://clairetrevien.co.uk is extremely unwieldy for that sort of thing as it refuses any kind of formatting beyond bullet points, no doubt something I should fix this year), so here goes.

I’ve been reading all sorts of end-of-year blogs over the last few days and admire them both for their memory (January 2013 feels like another land to me) and ability to succinctly summarize an unwieldy amount of information. I recommend among many others Tim Cresswell’s, Jayne Stanton’s, Rob Mackenzie‘s, the Poetry School’s, Jenna Clake’s,  … They make me wish I’d kept track as the year progresses.

Obviously, the problem with these kind of summaries is that they make everything feel instagrammed and glorious, while on a personal-level, I’ve had some pretty awful lows and was probably ill more often than in previous years. This is probably due to holding down at first a full-time day job, and then two day jobs (totalling 4 days), while juggling the extra-curricular projects. I’m aiming for a better balance next year. Poetry-wise, I do have to be grateful, I have had a wonderful year, which I’ll try to summarize in a format inspired by Kim Moore, with the addition of favourite things read (hard to remember by month, so there may be errors):

January-February: Penning Perfumes did its first tour to Manchester, Oxford, Bristol and Birmingham, involving both new poets living locally and poets from the original project. I also had some of my poems translated into French and made them into a limited edition pamphlet thanks to Lucie Forejtová at Immaginacija. Submissions for the first issue of Verse Kraken opened.

Favourite Things Read: Poetry London, Bernardine Evaristo’s issue of Poetry Review, and all the poems Christian Ward plagiarised.

March: The Verse Kraken submissions closed, nominations for the Saboteur Awards opened leading me to become far too intimately acquainted with Excel spreadsheets, and The Shipwrecked House was published and launched in London and Paris.

Favourite Things Read: Poems in Which, Superbard’s The Flood

April: Published a free e-book edition of Penning Perfumes vol.2, launched The Shipwrecked House in Oxford and Beaconsfield, voting opened and closed for the second round of Saboteur Awards voting (less work-intensive thanks to Survey Monkey), and I was ‘exhibited’ for the first time thanks to Crystal Bennes, at the Hanmi Gallery in London as part of a collaboration between poets and photographers. After 7 months of persuasion, my workplace agreed to create a blog. Read at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival which was great fun (with thanks to Dan Holloway who has been super supportive the whole year to me and so many other writers and deserves some kind of rat-shaped medal).

Favourite Things Read: Sculpted: Poetry of the North WestLullabies to make your children cry by Lucy Ayrton.

May: The Saboteur Awards took place  to a sold-out audience and I was thus able to regain some control over my life. I did one of my favourite readings at Outspoken, featuring Anna Hobson, Ceri Lloyd, Amy McCauley and Katherine Stansfield: the audience was really warm and responsive and the mirror format really made me appreciate each poet’s reading fully.

Favourite Things Read: Lune by Sarah Hymas, this awesome poem by Emily Hasler.

June: Tori Truslow and I launched Verse Kraken after staying up all-night making the hard-copy editions and we also led our first writing retreat with the wonderful Lucy Ayrton. An interesting challenge for me was being part of a panel at the Southbank on the digital alternative thanks to Chrissy Williams at the Poetry Library with Helen Ivory and Caleb Klaces.

Favourite Things Read: Hannah Lowe’s Chick, Luke Kennard’s Holophin.

July: Well, the big news for me was finding out that a) I had a highly commended poem in the Forward Prizes and that b) I was longlisted in the Guardian First Book Awards.

Favourite Thing Read: Luke Wright’s Mondeo Man.

August:  I was ill for the entire month but did manage to organize an Oxford reading with James Brookes, Amy Key, Charlotte Newman, Tori Truslow and James Webster which was a lot of fun.

Favourite Things Read: Melissa Lee-Houghton’s long-awaited second collection Beautiful Girls, Clare Pollard’s Ovid’s Heroines.

September: Loved helping Kiran Millwood Hargrave launch her latest collection Splitfish in Oxford, and a podcast on my poem ‘Whales’ came out. Otherwise I mostly tried to concentrate on moving flats, getting a year older, and starting a second job.

Favourite Things Read: Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s Splitfish, Helen Mort’s Division Street.

October: This was a busy month for readings, starting with the finale of the Swindon Festival of Poetry with the lovely Kim Moore, and meeting Sam Loveless, Michael Scott and Hilda Sheehan. Then I got to be on a panel on the future of poetry publishing at the swanky Club at the Ivy with Helen Ivory again and chaired by Sir Andrew Motion. Next, Gareth Prior kindly included me in one of the best organized readings I’ve ever attended at the Jericho Tavern, where I was especially glad to hear Patrick McGuinness, Jenny Lewis and Ben Parker read. Last but not least, I read at a Nine Arches Press event in Leicester alongside Mario Petrucci, Matt Merritt and Alistair Noon – very grateful to Jane Commane, who is another relentless and passionate champion of poetry.  I was also glad to make it to the launch of the Interpreter’s House where I finally put a face to names such as Josephine Corcoran and Paul Hawkins. Finally, Sabotage Reviews had a long-overdue make over…. Thankfully, I started working 4 days a week rather than 5 which should have made things more manageable were it not for the mountain of marking….

Favourite Things Read: Matt Merritt’s The Elephant TestsTim Cresswell’s Soil, Kim Moore’s If We Could Speak like Wolves.

November: was a busy month on all fronts with one week in particular which often involved catching a train/bus in the morning from one place, changing into increasingly ridiculous outfits before catching another train/bus, doing an event and then running for the last train home. And repeat. Highlights included: writing 100 poems in a day, reading at the Magma launch, going to the Writer’s Return event in York and catching up with JT Welsch and Inua Ellams there, performing at Wordsmiths&co at the Warwick Arts Centre, reading at the Interrobang Festival, going to the Guardian First Book Awards at the Tate Modern and leading a second Verse Kraken retreat with Tori Truslow. Being the Poetry School’s first digital-poet-in-residence was also a stand-out moment for me and reminded me that I love blogging.

Favourite Things ReadInterpreter’s House #54, Tim Wells’ Rising #60, Amy Key’s Luxe.

December: This was a month which I hoped would be a little quieter after the intense last two, but it began with the Penning Perfumes Christmas Special for which Lucie Forejtová and I handmade forty-odd cards – great to hear John Clegg, Kayo Chingonyi, Amy Key, and Charlotte Newman read again and in such a unique setting. The Betsey Trotwood Christmas All-Dayer was also excellent fun, Renée O’Drobinak, Chrissy Williams, John Canfield, Alice Walker and John McCullough stole the show, and our table won cheese in the quiz. Submissions for issue 2 of Verse Kraken closed. And just to round things off nicely, Robert Peake included me in his 5 British Poets to Watch in 2014 list over on the Huffington Post blog.

Favourite Thing Read: Michael Symmons Roberts’ Drysalter, Emily Berry’s Dear Boy, Rachel Piercey’s The Flower and the Plough.

My new year’s resolutions in light of this are to read and write more and organize less, but we’ll see how that goes…

What are yours?