Thursday 24 November 2022

Why don't I enter poetry competitions?

Because I don’t enjoy reading the crowd-pleasing poems that tend to win.

Because competitions implicitly and involuntarily encourage poets to write crowd-pleasers.

Because I write poems that are apparently simple, that accumulate layers, that would never stand out in a mass of fireworks.

Because I don’t write to win competitions. I write for my potential readers. I write for the conversations that individual poems strike up among themselves and with those readers in the context of a magazine or a collection.

What about you...?

Tuesday 15 November 2022

A comparison between poetry and wine

A first thing the poetry business and the wine trade have in common: the best way to end up with a small fortune in both poetry publishing and winemaking is to start off with a large one. In part, this is because winemaking is often a highly personal project, just like poetry publishing, and people thus often do stuff that makes little business sense.

And then there’s the question of personal taste: I don't like big, oaky wines from Ribera del Duero. I do admire them in technical terms when they're well crafted, but I can never bring myself to enjoy them. Same goes for certain types of poetry.

Mind you,
taste changes over the years, of course. I now can't stand certain wines I used to love, and have become a big fan of others I never appreciated in the past. Same goes again for certain types of poetry.

And what about
wines that in objective terms might not be exceptional but fit a context perfectly? Or I associate them with a special moment, person or place? Same goes for certain poems.

And one last, extremely positive point: how do so many different styles of wine survive on the market, so many different interpretations of every grape variety and every terroir? Because there are so many different tastes. And all for them are valid. Same goes for the huge range of poetry that's written and read.

Thursday 3 November 2022

A few thoughts on poetry reviewing in the current climate

In light of Helena Nelson's request for views on writing and reading poetry reviews (see this link), here are a few reflections on my own attitude towards reviewing in the current climate.

On the one hand, I write reviews not as blurbs or puff pieces but to promote the poetry I love by engaging with it, explaining just why it enthralls me. I try to get my hands dirty with the inner workings of a collection's engine, hoping to enlighten the reader and encourage them to buy the book.
And on the other, I read them to find books I might want to buy. Or to find a new perspective on a collection I've already read. There are certain reviewers whose taste I trust and respect, from whom I learn loads. One thorny issue I would like to highlight is my growing feeling that social media's tribal pile-ons are making it more and more uncomfortable to write reviews with a critical element. And then this is combined with the trend of poets who view their book as an extension of themselves, as a means of self-expression. Even mild criticism consequently becomes a personal affront...

Tuesday 1 November 2022

Only 12 months to go...!

As of today, only 12 months to go till my second full collection comes out with HappenStance Press.

I’m still chipping away at the ms, adding a poem here, removing one there, tweaking a line, adjusting a stanza, pondering a comma, looking forward to sharing the book with you in November next year…