Lumen and Camden Poetry Competition
It was very nice to attend the prize giving of the Lumen and Competition, won by James Knox Whittet (pictured below reading), for his poem A Machine at Full Speed. The prize is the publication of a pamphlet, which James read from in a very distinctive style. As one of the commended poets, I got to read my poem Eel to an audience for the first time, which is always an interesting experience. The venue, as you might be able to see from the photo, was a church, the Lumen United Reformed Church & Community Centre. It was an appropriate place to hold a reading; I’ve always felt there is a closeness between poetry and religion, in language, subject and the realm they sometimes seem able to take you to. Thankfully, there was also plenty of humour from the evening’s readers to balance the evening.
I remember the first time I ever heard of email. It was in 1994 and my sister told me she was going to go and send some electronic mail, and I had no idea what she was on about. Since then, I’ve probably received around half a million, which I guess is about par for the course. And like most people most of the emails have ranged between very boring and quite boring, with a select few sticking their heads about the parapet by being interesting. The email from Todd Swift at Eyewear Publishing saying that they’d accepted my pamphlet The Bends is in the top five out of all those half a million emails. It’s a great small press, and I’m delighted to be joining their list of poets and writers. Their beautifully designed books and pamphlets make great presents too, if you’ve someone with a literary bent in the family.
Bristol Short Story Prize
What a great setting for the Bristol Short Story Prize prize-giving, the Bristol Central Library – you could almost feel the presence of the decades worth of writers, readers and professionals who had spent time there. Indeed, Bristol deputy mayor, Estella Tincknell, who helped introduce the evening, recalled starting her professional life in local government as a librarian in that very building. Many congratulations to the overall winner, Stefanie Seddon with her story Kākahu, and to second and third prize winners Tanner McSwain and Kate Brown. Big shout out too to Joe Melia – BSS prize coordinator and unsung writing hero – for putting on such a great evening. Below a snap of me with the anthology, which includes my shortlisted story Ring of White Hankerchiefs.
Ouse Washes Poetry Competition
The Fenland Reed magazine runs what must be the best named poetry competition in the world, the Ouse Washes Poetry Competition. I was very pleased to be highly commended this year with my poem Skating at Earith, and am really looking forward to reading the winners. All the poems were inspired by photographs of the Ouse Washes; it’s such an interesting area and as Clare Best, the competition judge, said when commenting on my poem, fenland landscapes can have a real sense of ‘disorientation and transience’. Perfect settings for stories and poems, then.
A photo below of the display of the winners (and commended poems) at the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership conference.
I was very pleased to be part of livecanon’s Project 154. livecanon are an ensemble performing poetry (from memory) at theatres, festivals and events throughout the UK. To celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, livecanon invited 154 contemporary poets to respond to the 154 sonnets. I was invited to response to sonnet 33. Below is a recording of two of the ensemble reading Shakespeare’s sonnet and my response, Southampton in Paris, at the launch at V&A.