National Poetry Competition 2nd Prize!

or, Putting on Your Proper Poet Hat

kunst

It’s with huge delight I can now celebrate that I was awarded second prize in The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition (NPC) 2016, with my poem The Desktop Metaphor.

Last Wednesday, we went to a prize-giving at the Savile Club in Mayfair – which was also the announcement for the Ted Hughes prize, which was originated and officiated by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy – and won this year by the brilliant Holly McNish, for Nobody Told Me.

It’s wonderful to see my poems ‘out there’ this month, with another soon to be in March’s Rialto. (And, of course, there’s the small matter of the £2000 prize money for the NPC – which is definitely the biggest cash prize I’ve ever won – eek!).

I’ve known about the prize since the beginning of February – and enter competitions quite regularly – so have been sitting on this information for quite a while, but for a select few confidants. It’s been interesting to notice my Inner Imposter piping up at times: What do you mean, you’ve won second prize in the National? Are you sure? Did they make a mistake?

The poem I entered was something of an experiment – one I felt like there was ‘something to’ which was slightly mysterious to me as well. So I thought: why not? Chuck it in, see what happens. The pamphlet I entered to The Rialto was full of experiments, too: this was one of the aspects which was favourably commented on in the feedback.

It’s immensely gratifying for another experiment to have won a main prize in such a pretigious competition. It’s made me realise that it’s one of the aspects of my writing which is strongest: to experiment, innovate, play around and take risks with poetry. Not all experiments will work – but some will, so it’s worth persisting with them, and enjoying the process. (Indeed the Ted Hughes prize is all about innovation – so why not keep trying?)

So I’m telling my Inner Imposter to sod off, and celebrating. Because for every one thing you win, there are many you don’t – and it’s easy to get stuck in an Imposter habit, as some kind of ‘hard hat’ for resilience, in this tough process of submitting work to journals & competitions.

Time to put the Inner Imposter in its bunker and  put on my Proper Poet hat. (No, it’s not a real hat – but you can imagine one if you like.)

It’s NaPoWriMo, after all – so a great time to go forth, and experiment!

Bony Orbit – Videopoem

A videopoem I made, based on some 1940s footage of How The Eye Functions, is now up on Atticus Review here, and embedded directly from YouTube below.

The piece was started over a two-day poetry filmmaking workshop in Bristol towards the end of last year – I recommend going on workshops/courses like this, to give youself spacetime/timespace to tinker and start something (not always easy to find otherwise).

It’s my hope to create more videopoems in the coming year – there’s a whole wealth of archive out there, just waiting to be moulded…

I hope you enjoy Bony Orbit, as puzzling as (I still think) it is:

Rialto Pamphlet Competition – Shorlisted!

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Some exciting news: I’ve been shortlisted in The Rialto pamphlet competition 2017!

It’s their first pamphlet competition and a really exciting honour to be included in the final ten poets. It also means I’ll have a poem from the pamphlet in their next issue – very exciting.

A word about resilience and writing: last year I submitted a lot of work, to a lot of different publications and competitions. They very rarely ‘land’. And it can – and does – become very disheartening at times. (Indeed, I had just declared a ‘break’ from submitting when I heard about this one.) I think it’s really important we acknowledge times we’re feeling vulnerable, or somewhat defeated – we all experience these, and they’re normal.

But for me there’s something about the practice of poetry, as a way of seeing the world, that keeps me reading and writing it, even when it becomes infuriating. Once you have a real relationship with poetry, it’s something you commit to – and that means even when you have a rough patch and your peculiarities get on each other’s nerves…

So it’s wonderful when poems, or groups of poems, find a readership in judges, or editors – but to me, it’s an affirmation of that relationship and way of seeing and finding a way through the world.

I heard the quote above a while back and it really did ring true: reading and writing really is and must be its own reward. ‘Amateur’, by the way, means ‘lover’.

As Rialto Editor Fiona Moore says in her blog post about the process: “Read to write and write to read. Read to make it new.”

It’s about poetry, and finding a community of poets and – hopefully – some readers. (Poetry definitely ain’t about the money, eh?)

So (a wise woman once said): Keep Going.

 

 

Growing Bolder Video

Here’s a short film made by me, about the excellent Growing Bolder project – funded by Bristol Ageing Better – and the performance we did at Avenue House care home (in Redland, Bristol) on 7th July. Enjoy!

There are more examples of videos I’ve made on the Word Rocket YouTube channel here.

And if you’d like me to make a film of your project or event – please get in touch.

Visual Verse: Pachycephalosaurus

I’m one of the featured writers this month, on the excellent Visual Verse

You can read my curious poem here – and then submit your own work, inspired by the same image.

It’s a great project to nurture writing inspired by images, something I really enjoy doing and put to use in workshops I run.

(One of the brains behind Visual Verse is also the brain behind The Curved House – which you should check out too: they do wonderful work on visual literacy.)

Ware Poets Competition Commendation

A little ‘hooray for me’ post: I have been commended in the Ware Poets Open Competition 2016, for my poem The Thereminist Hails a Bus.

The competition is judged by Philip Gross, a poet for whom I have a lot of respect – so I’m really pleased.

Also, this is a poem that I wrote (quite quickly!) for day 22 of NaPoWriMo 2016 in April – which for me goes to show how it’s worth persisting with and experimenting with what you write!

I’ll be making my way to Ware on the 8th July for the prizegiving and anthology launch, am looking forward to it.

WRITE OFF from June 7th

Write Off Poster - JUNE 2016

The next WRITE OFF sessions start Tuesday June 7th at Beatroots Cafe, Lower Park Row, 17.00 – 18.30, for six weeks.

The young people who attend the group rephave been really enjoying the mix of reading and writing for wellbeing and fun.
We try out new activities, experiments and styles – working with words in the very broadest way!  We’ve done everything from experimental sound poems to third-person stories about our morning routines, to ‘story hot house’ verbal storytelling, and ‘subvertising’.

I plan sessions based on what the group members would like to do (or try, or re-try). And for anyone anxious about reading together in this kind of group: we don’t schoolsplain (a word I’ve picked up through it) and you never have to read anything aloud you don’t want to.

All are welcome, from aged 16 – 25. If you can email ahead, I’ll make sure there is enough cake – but no problem if you can’t.
Email: Caleb@otrbristol.org.uk
Look forward to seeing you there!

Write Off (Spring)

A quick note to say my Write Off sessions will be starting again on Tuesday 1st March.

The sessions are open to all young people from 15 – 25 years old. As in the last sessions  (where we tried everything from haiku to surrealism and concrete poetry) we’ll be exploring different creative reading and writing approaches for fun, confidence-building, self-expression and reflection.

April is also National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) – so we’ll be delving into the prompts and resources on offer to see how they might inspire our own writing experiments!

Write Off Info Poster March 2016

Hands

A poem of mine, ‘Hands’,  has just gone up on Folia Magazine online – you can read it here.

The poem came out of a workshop a couple of years ago in Leeds, with writer and facilitator Rommi SmithThe starting point was smells – for me, the Vaseline Intensive Care in the first stanza (with the second part leading on from that). 

Folia’s aim is to “foster a deeper appreciation for the poetry of life, death, and medicine” – which was why I submitted this piece. It’s a poem which moves around in time, with a childhood memory of driving in the car with my Mum (and her hand cream), juxtaposed with a later conversation about her going through chemotherapy.

I hope my Mum doesn’t mind this being ‘out there’; in some ways it’s not my experience to write about (though the conversation was, I guess). She dealt with the process of treatment with incredible humour and courage – so I hope the poem evokes this powerful being, who can (and does) deal with whatever life throws at her.

Happy New Year & Happy New Projects

Well, it’s been quite an adventure over the Festive Pause – we’ve been away in Europe and, alas, our car conked out while there…This precipitated various transport escapades to get us – and our small dog – back to Blighty by Monday this week…Still: such things are stories in the making. And so it might well become one on here once I’ve taken some time to sit and jot it all down.

IN OTHER (EXCITING) NEWS: Having managed to write a proposal for it while on the move, I’m delighted to announce that the excellent Paul Hurley and I will be (collectively) one of two lead artists on an exciting project in Bristol, with the excellent Knowle West Media Centre.

The Bristol Approach to Citizen Sensing will aim to develop a “new framework for running inclusive, community-driven digital projects that involve sensor technologies”. Paul and I will be working as artists in multi-disciplinary teams, to engage creatively in this process.

What kinds of sensing tools and data are useful to the community, rather than centralised organisations, corporations, or government? And how can we make the data they produce visible, beautiful, relevant, inspiring? Can it be performed, or made into poetry – and how can this spur people into taking action for their communities…?

These are very big, very exciting questions – and ones I’m looking forward to working on through dialogue, exploration and creation.

Things get going next week, so I’ll post up more information once we’re further into the process…