Thursday, January 31, 2008


What a busy month January has been and – it might be something to do with the low, grey sky – I am feeling tired. It’s been busy at work and in addition I had reviews of two large poetry collections to write during the first week, and then reviews of three chapbook collections to do over the following fortnight.

My own writing creaked to a halt - almost. I had ideas, but they weren’t keen to become poems, or at least not the kind of poems I wanted to write. I had decided at the beginning of the month that I was going to enter two competitions – the Wigtown and the Strokestown – and for a while it looked as though I had nothing worth entering. My best poems had all been sent to three magazine editors, with whom, indeed, they still reside. However, I managed to revise a poem I had drafted at the beginning of December into an entry for the Wigtown and, by some miracle, poetry started happening in my head again and I managed to write one for the Strokestown too. It was hard work, but I made it. I feel I deserve to win that competition, as I walked against the wind through a horrible blizzard to post my entry!

Actually, I also entered another competition – one with a free entry and a “free tickets for a year” type prize – although I wrote that poem inside a few hours before the deadline and emailed it off, so it was very, very rough.

So a strange start to the year. That’s probably about half the competitions I’ll enter all year. The others will be the National Poetry Competition and the new Edwin Morgan Competition. Maybe one or two more – the Bridport perhaps, or the Arvon. This all depends on having poems worth entering of course.

Anyway, tonight I plan to continue reading Andy Philip’s manuscript, which I’ve only got to sporadically over the last few weeks, for reasons that will be clear. Certainly, the first twenty-odd pages look very solid to me. I can’t see much Andy could do to improve them.


Cailleach said...

That made me laugh about the blizzard - the weather's no joke at the moment - bitter cold here too with sleet and snow, brr!

I wish you the very best of luck for Strokestown - bet you make the shortlist... :)

Rachel Fox said...

Winter weather and poetry competitions...what a depressing combination. The cold, the wet, the always being judged...
At risk of sounding like a character from a film with Jennifer Aniston, it sounds to me like you need to go out dancing, do some raucous singing in the park or just plain old wander the streets of Edinburgh handing out sheets of your poetry to random strangers.
Just a thought or two.

Rob said...

Barbara - thanks. I appreciate your positive outlook! I'd guess the odds on making that shortlist are about 300-1.

Rachel - I didn't mean to be depressing - sorry about that. I don't mind my poetry being judged, so I don't think of that in negative terms at all. I hate the winter weather though. The good news is that I will be dancing on Saturday night. But singing in the park would probably get me arrested for causing needless suffering to the surrounding wildlife and handing out my poetry to strangers might earn me a punch on the jaw - at least - especially given the streets I habitually wander...

Rob said...

I meant to say: on the blizzard - what actually happened was that I went out to post my entry. It was sleeting down heavily and the wind was strong. About halfway to the Post Office, I had this idea for one of the lines in my entry - a definite improvement. So after thinking for a minute or two, I turned back to the house, made the change, printed off the new version, sat on it for about 10 minutes just to make sure it really was an improvement, and then went back into the blizzard again, which by this time had worsened considerably. By the time I got near my home again, I could only move by bending my head to the ground - the icy sleet was blowing so strongly that it was too painful to look up.

That's worth at least a commendation, don't you think?!

Jim Murdoch said...

Well Beckett wrote 'Whoroscope' the night before a competition deadline and won so you never know your luck.