The expectation of surprise

I sent a batch of poems to Poetry London yesterday. Sending to magazines is a great excuse to catch up on any issues you haven’t read in a while. They give you a sense of what’s happening in poetry. It’s refreshing to see emerging themes and styles. How far this is because of the editorial vision or the movements of a collective muse is difficult to know. If it were obvious the magazine would probably feel laboured and didactic.

But even when you are familiar with a magazine, it’s not really possible to second guess what the editor wants to read because, in all likelihood, the editor wants to be surprised. All we can say is that the poem has to be one of the silver bullets:  self-contained enough to survive when separated from the body of your work. Perhaps all poems should be.

Bat hunting

Tonight was my second poetry workshop with Joe and Hugh. While you might normally go to the pub to chat and catch up, it’s good to meet with the feeling of purpose a workshop session brings. That shared sense of purpose you get from meeting other writers has re-energised me, adding a social dimension to what is otherwise a solitary pursuit. It’s great to read their work and try between us to elucidate something about the craft.

We rounded off the night by hunting bats using Joe’s echolocation detector. This impressive gizmo translated bat calls into a range that we could hear. We watched pipistrelles fly under the bridge, snatching moths above the river and spinning through streetlights, and all the while we were eavesdropping on their high frequency chatter. A hidden language made briefly perceptible.

The Dark Horse

I’ve polished six of my best recent poems and sent them for consideration by one of my favourite journals, The Dark Horse. Well worth subscribing if you don’t already.

The Bridport Prize

My hope is to have some poems published in a magazine this year, so I haven’t entered any competitions up until now. Whilst regrouping following a volley of rejection letters, I noticed that the deadline for The Bridport Prize was approaching. Tempt not a desperate man. I’ve been shortlisted for The Bridport a few times and felt that it deserved another attempt.

It’s quite easy to get excited about competitions, with the prize money and the anonymity that means even an unknown can hope to be discovered. The work of submitting to magazines can fall by the wayside all too easily, and I’ve neglected it in the past. I’ve earmarked a handful of the best journals to submit to during the latter half of the year, so check back here to see how I get on.