Wednesday, 31 December 2014

On getting poems out there

My wee ebook

I began this year with the resolution to get myself back in print as a poet. Both of my collections (letting light in and Castings) have been out of print for years (although at least letting light in is available as an ebook here). I do poetry readings and events quite regularly and have to disappoint people when they want to buy a book of my poems, and last year, as poet in residence in the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, this became somewhat embarrassing, so I vowed to do something about it.

The winter was dominated by the launch of Into the Forest, an anthology of other people's tree poems. Once that was done, I started looking at potential poetry publishers, and decided to enter some competitions with sets of poems. I came second in the Overton poetry prize with my sequence of tree poems, one for each letter of the Gaelic Tree Alphabet. I was also listed for the Poetry School/Pighog and  Cinnamon Press pamphlet competitions. All three sets of poems were different, so although these were near misses, they at least gave me confidence I have at least 50 poems that work in combination.

How else do you get a collection published? My first collection was the result of a magazine editor liking my poems and asking to publish a slim volume of them. I like poetry magazines: they're my staple reading with a cup of tea in bed in the morning and I love the sense of dialogue with other poets who seem to hang out with the same little mags as I do. I've sent poems out to all my favourites over the past year, and as a result they've appeared in Northwords Now, Orbis, Stravaig, New Linear Perspectives, Trafika Europe, Acumen, Dream Catcher, Obsessed with Pipework, in an anthology of war poems, an anthology of landscape poems and on the wonderful StAnza poetry map of Scotland.Thank you to all the editors who keep the poetry conversation alive.

Still somehow the year has gone by without me rectifying my situation as an out-of-print poet. I'm very proud to be reading at the StAnza Poetry Festival in March 2015, but once again I'll have no books on sale. Guess what's my new year's resolution again this year?

Wishing you all a jolly hogmanay!

P.S. Sorry for the long gap since the last post. We were struck by lightning three weeks ago and today was our first day with broadband functioning since then. Much catching up to be done...

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