Rialto Pamphlet Competition – Shorlisted!

richardbach1

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.

 

 

NaPoWriMo 2.17: 310

Our bus across the Yorkshire countryside was not like the Wensleydale Omnibus, alas. http://www.wensleydaleomnibus.co.uk/‎

Final poem of the day…

Taking the number prompt from Jo Bell’s 52 today – and thinking about a moment on a bus journey that a friend and I took yesterday, when on our way to Holmfirth.

 

310

 

In the top second row,

we float through Netherthong,

raise an eyebrow and a titter.

Two young ‘professionals’

in a dialogue of loud future tense:

our shopping list of desires

for our less than 60 years.

 

In the coveted front row –

(the seats which feel

like an out-of-body experience)

in a rustling nest from Wilko:

a girl, perhaps under ten,

her grandma, 60-or-so.

 

The bus slows, “What’s going on

Gran?” There are dark suits,

post-ceremony loitering, flat

black-hatted faces and time

held captive in the clock tower.

 

It’s bright outside. Dark cars twinkle

from every double-yellow line: including this

sharp bend, edging around the graveyard.

“It’s illegal,” says the elder, “parking there,

in the way, on a corner like that.”

 

We see them, peering down, with all

one-hundred-and-twenty-something

of our combined years. Watch them now,

watching closely, as two grey bumpers

edge nearer and nearer

together.

 

 

Pirates

Image

Last Saturday, I went on a workshop with the Canal Laureate, Jo Bell, about whom you can read more here.

We spent some time talking about detail – using specific canal-furniture names (boats, bridges, places) in writing – and then moved on to ‘becoming’ various combinations of watery figures. Myself and another writer became a poet and a jogger – both of whom were horrible people. But hey – they’re often more fun to write as (maybe).

Another boat-related idea had been flitting around in my head, which I’ve just had another go at. Having not been sure how to approach the topic, I epiphed (all over the place) on the way home. 

It was some speed-writing (thanks Natalie Goldberg, for the encouragement – from a book nearly as old as me – ‘Writing Down the Bones’) generated an image – so I went with it…

 

Pirates

 

My friend, like so many,

fears them intensely,

so when she asks me,

a glimmer of hope:

“Are you safe from them

on boats?” I’m obliged to say

No.

 

For never before have I existed

so closely alongside them. Shipmates.

Brushing my teeth in the morning, in the

lower-right corner of the window,

in one swings with a toothless grin –

its rope dewed with the white

frothy grog that is splashed

from my chin.

 

Attracted by the dusky glint

of our black-gold chimneys,

they hoist ragged sails there which –

gaping in the trading winds –

display the body-parts of victims.

 

At night, they are not as sociable as

popular images would have us think.

Don’t gather together to eat or drink

their pillaged bounty; engage in a customary

YARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Instead,

they loiter under gunwhales,

bristle between the welds of steel,

biding their dark-clad time. (Though

on the vacant ship next-moor

they’ve moved in – squatting – on a riot

of their crystalline rigging.)

 

So my friend says, “Oh Gina G!

I had thought you might be safe at sea.”

But no, for ours is the realm of the

Pirate: their map and their maws;

their plots and their prey;

their own many-cutlassed laws.