How to Get Your Poetry Published, the Traditional Way

When I had been writing poetry for a few years, had a decent sized bank of poems built up and felt ready to share it with the world, I turned to the internet to find out how one went about being published.

Google was not kind to me.

What my limited research told me was that my dream of being a published poet was just that – a dream. That there was very little point in trying, as only people who were already famous stood a chance of getting published. And even then, it was a small chance. “No one reads poetry,” said one reply.

Well, that was that then. Or so I thought. I accepted my findings and, although I kept writing poems, I gave up on the hope of seeing them in print.

It didn’t occur to me that the research might be wrong. That I, in myself, was proof that it was. I mean, I must have known that at least people read poetry, because I was one of them.

But the people of the internet seemed convincing and I took them to be experts. Before I joined Women Aloud NI, I didn’t know any other writers. I didn’t have their experience to compare with what I’d been (wrongly) told.

You might ask why I was misled in such a way, and I think there are a few reasons for that. Partly, it was because what I was told wasn’t entirely wrong. Like any good lie, there was an element of truth to it. Matched with other’s anecdotal evidence and my own insecurities, it seemed like a closed case.

So, what’s the truth? You can get published – it is possible – but it’s also difficult.

To make it just a little easier, I’m going to outline how it’s (usually) done. Continue reading

Birdsong (a Poem)

This time last year, after our main events for International Women’s Day, the Women Aloud NI crew went cross-border the following Saturday to do a day-long event there too.

Tomorrow, we’re going to do it all again.

So I thought I would share the poem I wrote for the event – I began it as I waited for the bus that would take me to the train that would take me to Dublin last year, and I finished it just now.

At the time, someone suggested we wear pin badges of birds so we could identify each other, seeing as most of us had only ever met online to that point, but I’m happy to report there’s no need for such an identifier this year, as we’re all familiar faces now.

Birdsong

Bright as shining pins,
we paraded through the Dublin streets;
Pins working double time
to keep up with the rest of the flock.

Then, at the roost, we gathered;
more of us – a murmuration.
Silence fell, we opened our beaks,
and sang.

Happy National Poetry Day!

Things are still fairly hectic for me (this entire year so far has been insane) so I’m not making it out to a National Poetry Day event. But I did want to take this opportunity to say that the micropoetry collection I talked about releasing at the start of the year is still in the works. Because of all the madness that is life, I’ve pushed back the release date several times. Currently, I’m aiming for a November launch. But who knows – anything can happen during NaNo. As long as you know, dear readers, that I haven’t forgotten and I am getting there, albeit slowly.

Six Months of Books

Now that half the year is gone, it really is high time I got around to summarising everything I’ve been reading. I set myself the goal of fifty books this year, and I’m very pleased (not to mention surprised) that I’m well ahead of target with thirty-seven already down (74% of target, 13 books ahead of schedule).

Here is a breakdown of those thirty-seven books:

Poetry

Through a Hedge Backwards by Rene Greig, Reflections from the Enler by Alex Dempster, The Orchard by Isobel Gamble, The World’s Wife and Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy, Famous American Poems edited by Gene Baro, The Goose Tree by Moyra Donaldson, Undying by Michel Faber, Crow by Ted Hughes, and Stranger Baby by Emily Berry.

Audiobooks in the Dresden Files Series

Turn Coat, Changes, Ghost Story, Cold DaysSkin Game, and Side Jobs all by Jim Butcher.

Young Adult Novels

No Life But This and Spinning Thorns by Anna Sheehan, Terror Kid by Benjamin Zephaniah, Amoung the Ghosts by Amber Benson, Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Life and Death by Stephanie Myer, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Inish Carraig by Jo Zebedee (audiobook)

Adult Novels

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin (audio), As You Like It by Shakespeare (audio), Where Three Roads Meet by Salley Vickers, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Non-Fiction

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (audio), The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight (audio).

Novelty/Gift Books

In the Garden of Happiness by Dodinsky, Doug the Pug by Leslie Mosier, and Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones by Bryan Cogman.

Other

The Female Line edited by Ruth Carr (poetry and short stories), and a novel-length fanfic.

*sighs a deep, contented breath* What have you guys been reading?


Want even more stats? Follow me on Goodreads here.

My Shadow (Poem)

Recently, I shared a piece of flash fiction about shadows. Now I have a poem for you, on the theme. It was inspired by this video.

Now, normally, I shy away from prompts. I have so many story ideas, I already can’t keep up, but poetry’s different. Because it’s so much shorter, I can have an idea for a poem and jump on it right away. They don’t build up, so I have none in reserve.

Since I’ve been writing a lot of poems lately, and I want to keep that going, I have been actively looking for inspiration for poems. As such, I’ve found this site which is quite good.

But that’s enough preamble. Here is my poem.

My Shadow

Light slips through
the dark cracks
They are substance
in themselves
Forming a mosaic

Cold parts are next to warm
there is every shade of color
Everything that is me
reflected

My shadow is what I will
leave behind

Poetic Waves (Writing Review – Sept. 2016)

shortlisted-poet-certificateMaybe it’s because it’s the run up to National Poetry Day (in the UK) and the FSNI National Poetry Competition (in Northern Ireland), but September seems to be a fairly poetry-focused month for me.

It was last year, and is even more so this year – no doubt spurred on by me starting a poetry class and having a poem shortlisted in a local competition. Regardless of the reason why, though, the fact remains that I wrote a shed-load of verse last month, and I’m still writing a lot now, as I near the end of October.

I’ll get into the nitty gritty of stats in a moment but, first, I’ve been having some thoughts about this whole poetry lark…

The way I figure it, I’m on my fourth wave of poetry. Maybe (/probably) that’s a weird way to look at it, but what I mean is that I see a clear distinction between the poems I wrote as a child (which I’m counting as wave one – anything written up to the age of about 16), the poems I wrote growing up (16 – 24, as summed up in Juvenilia), the poems I wrote in the last few years (as featured in Still Dreaming, Wake, and The Love Poems), and the ones I’m writing now.

I could be deluding myself, but I really think my new set are at a much higher standard than ever before. It makes sense, after all, that I would improve with practice, I’m just impressed with how much and how sudden it all is.

Obviously, I’m not the most objective person to judge that, but the feedback I’ve been getting in class has been really encouraging. Plus there is the fact that I’ve been able to finish poems that have been sitting, half-drafted, on my hard drive for years.

All in all, I wrote thirty new pieces and added to five more (totaling two thousand words). Also in September, I wrote three and a half blog posts (eight hundred words), a synopsis of a new story (one hundred and fifty words), one short story at a thousand words, a second short story at one thousand, eight hundred, a piece of flash fiction (seven hundred words), and two thousand words towards my novel.

What’s all that? Eight thousand, five hundred words, also known as a successful month!

The New Project

micropoemsThere’s nothing like the thrill of a new project. Well, for me, at least. At any given time, I usually have about three or four main projects on the go, and another couple simmering on the back burner. I’m like a project addict, I can’t help it.

So, I started a new thing. The idea has been brewing for a while, but it finally bloomed last night (if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor).

What is it? Well, there are a few layers to it, so bear with me as I rewind and explain a bit.

I’ve been working on a series of micropoems since the start of September – almost one a day – and I’ve really impressed myself with them (more on that particular point in my next blog post).

The plan as it stands, at the moment, is to publish the series as a collection in paperback next year. Maybe do an ebook version, too. But what I really want to do is record them as an audiobook.

In the meantime, I’m posting selected poems to SoundCloud, to try and build a bit of buzz.

What I ask of you, dear reader, is to have a listen. Just listen. You don’t have to like, or share, or write a comment telling me what you think (though it would be very much appreciated if you did…).

There are three snippets online right now, at under thirty seconds each, and I’m planning to add a new snippet each day.

Please, I ask you again, have a listen.

I hope you like what I’ve made.

People Worth Promoting: Colin Dardis

People Worth Promoting 1I’ve taken this idea from Jan Carson (another one to watch), but what I’d like to do is use this little space on the internet to promote awesome people who, I think, deserve recognition (or more recognition). And who better to start with than a man very much at the heart of the Belfast Arts Scene: Colin Dardis?

In my own head, I consider Colin to be ‘Poetry NI incarnate‘ – a term he will no doubt appreciate (I hope?).

I first met Colin when I, as an inexperienced young thing, entered myself into a poetry slam he was organizing. After pestering him with banal questions about how it all worked, he still let me take the mic. which, secretly, I think was quite brave of him. I was very clueless, and nervous, and boy did it show. But Colin (pretending not to notice) was very nice to treat me like a real performer.

Many months after that, he agreed to be my guinea pig, letting me interview him in a trial run for what would become my radio show about the local arts scene. It was even Colin who introduced me to Lulu.com, setting me on my self-publishing journey.

Always with his fingers in many pies, Colin really inspires me to get involved with cool projects. If you haven’t already heard of him, please go check him (/his poems) out.