Six Months of Books

Now that half the year is gone, it really is high time I get 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).

I also set myself the challenge of not buying any more books to add to my TBR pile and I’ve mostly stuck to that, barring a few freebies I’ve picked up and a couple of books I got with a voucher someone gifted me. Going forward, I’m going to continue with my book-ban until either I run out of unread books on my shelves or the end of the year – whichever comes first. (It turns out that I didn’t actually have quite as man unread books as I previously thought, so the goal is totally do-able.)  Continue reading

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

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, 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.

My Life in Books

Juvenilia CoverI got into reading quite well on in my youth, while at university, but books had an impact on me long before that. First, there was The Bible, which affected my life in a lot of unquantifiable ways simply by my parents believing in its teachings. But other than that, there were the books I had inside me (yeah, I know, how cliché does that sound?).

The thing is, I have been writing books for as long as I can remember (which, admittedly, is not that long, but that’s a whole different story. Maybe I’ll write about it one day…)

Back in Primary School, I was obsessed with animals. I mean, I still kinda am, but not to the degree with which a child can be. I have various snippets of memories in which I collected up any magazine with photos of pets in I could find, cutting them out as best I could and then gluing them to blank pieces of paper that I hoped would one day become My Big Book of Animals. Don’t ask me where it all ended up, I have no idea, but the point is that from a young age I had the desire to keep the things that mattered to me most in print.

While in High School I made a list of things I wanted to do with my life, but it ended up mostly being a list of books I wanted to write. I wrote a lot of poetry in those awkward teenage years, and I remember typing it up, printing and stapling copies that I gave to my best (/only) friend and my English teacher, at the time. (Apparently my friend still has her copy. She has so far ignored my requests to burn it.)

My own personal copies of those early poems no longer exist (thank God!), but a few from my later teens, and a stack from my university days still live on. I read over them, back when I was doing my literary audit, and I felt the urge to do something with them. They were too personal and not really at a high enough quality to submit anywhere, but leaving them to gather metaphorical dust on my computer didn’t seem right. I wanted closure on the events they were inspired by. I wanted to put them in a book, I realized.

Thus, Juvenilia (aka The Dark Time) was made. If Still Dreaming is my first book (which it is), then Juvenilia is like book zero. I may never make an official page for it on this site, or even mention it again (then again, I might), but it exists in the world and that felt necessary. The blurb says this: Poems from an unhappy youth. Pain committed to paper. A catalogue and containment of The Dark Time. I think that sums it up quite well. It represents a chunk of my life that I can’t get back (and don’t want back!), but one I had to live through.

Why did I call it Juvenilia if I wrote it mostly after I was a legal adult? Because, legality aside, I was still a juvenile. I hadn’t grown up, in large part due to still carrying all that emotional crap around with me.

Why did I release it under my birth name? Well, that should be obvious from the answer above. I hadn’t become the person I am now. That’s why I’m not launching this book and making a big deal out of it, because it doesn’t feel like I wrote it. Not quite me, but a previous incarnation of me.

I don’t know if any of this will make sense to anyone else, but the book isn’t for anyone else. I don’t care if anyone else ever reads it (except my partner). It simply is what it is.

I hurt, I poured the pain into words, I moved on, and now the words I penned once upon a time are moving on, too.

Related Article: How I mourned my sister through the books she left behind