Saturday 14 December 2019

The Best U.K. Poetry Blogs of 2019

When drawing up a list of candidates for Rogue Strands’ annual list of the best U.K. poetry blogs, it soon became clear that there was no dodging the fact that 2019 was far from being a vintage year. Too many veterans, who might have faltered in the past but then returned to the fold, have finally succumbed and fallen by the wayside, while few newcomers have stepped up to the plate.

It's worth pausing to indulge in a spot of speculation as to the reasons why. Drawing on personal experience, I have to admit that writing a blog can become a grind. That can lead you to pause, then the pause becomes a long hiatus, then a silence, and then it’s extremely tough to get back in the saddle.

And as for that feeling of the blog becoming a grind, one major issue is the feeling that you’re writing into a vacuum, especially if few comments are posted to the blog. And therein, of course, lies another growing issue. Let’s take Rogue Strands, for example. There’s no doubt that the number of comments has dropped.

However, in my case at least, the number of visits continues to grow. I’d argue that this is because of a developing relationship between social media and blogs, as I’ve come to understand that blog posts can form a useful point of departure or anchor for rapid-fire discussions on the likes of Facebook and Twitter rather than using the comments sections on blogs.

Of course, the counterpoint to my argument is that many users of social media simply post their thoughts elsewhere without the need for a blog at all, though that very speed can also be a drawback, as conversations and debates get cut off by the incredible velocity at which such platforms shift their readers’ attention.

I love poetry blogging because it provides the writer and reader with a unique combination of immediacy and longevity that lies far beyond the reach of social media. For instance, if I were to take a top ten of popular posts from Rogue Strands last month, two or three would be over five years old. That’s down to the power of search engines, which continue to attract new readers to old posts, often making surprising, new connections.

In other words, I very much continue to see a strong future for poetry blogs, though they have to adapt and evolve to the changing world around them. I still waste several hours a week browsing them, and I recommend you do so too! Despite this year’s relative decline, they still offer a special blend of news, views and thought-provoking perspectives on contemporary verse. Enjoy…

-       Matthew Paul’s blog

-       Tim Love’s litrefs

-       John Foggin’s cobweb

-       Roy Marshall’s blog

-       Emma Lee’s blog

-       Clare Best’s blog

And that’s the end of the 2019 list!

One caveat; as mentioned in previous years, I do know that grim feeling of reading through a list, coming to the end and realising you’re not there, so I can only apologise if I’ve missed you out. As one individual reader, I can’t keep up with everyone, and I’d be very grateful for any additional blogs that readers might like to add in the comments that follow this post…


  1. Thank you so much, Matt, for the mention!

  2. Thanks for the mention. My readership's gone down, partly I think because of the greater immediacy of Facebook/Twitter etc. I don't advertise my blogposts on our social media. Perhaps I should.
    Like you, I prefer the permanence of blogposts. Blogs have sufficient immediacy/interactivity for my tastes, but longevity isn't valued as much as it used to be.

    1. Most of the initial traffic to my blog posts is driven by social media these days. I do feel the way forward is to share posts on Facebook and Twitter, etc...

  3. Thanks for another inclusion - it's an honour & in excellent company.

  4. Just revisiting this post, Matthew, and thinking what a helpful 'one-stop shop' list this is for those of us who blog and hope to connect with other poetry bloggers. When I began blogging poetry over a decade ago, I soon found myself in a stimulating group of fellow poets who shared my particular interest in environmental issues and the natural world. I broadened my blog-base by taking part in what were known as 'blog carnivals' (and later 'memes'). Those seemed exciting days of real engagement before the immediacy and 'quick fixes' of social media took over and comments began to appear more and more on Facebook (usually fleetingly) and less and less on our blogs. Blogging effectively takes time and I am still trying to decide whether it is time that aids our writing and thinking processes or time that could/should be used for actual (poetry) writing...

    1. Thanks for commenting, Caroline. I find blogging's an ideal activity for when poetry itself won't come. Of course, the opposing argument is that it provides me with an ideal excuse for dodging "proper" writing!