Geography Lessons: a new poem in an important anthology

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Last summer Dr Sam Illingworth put out a call for poems on the theme of climate change to form a new anthology raising funds for the Environmental Justice Foundation, supporting refugees displaced by climate change.

I write a lot about climate change. It forms the backbone of the poems I’m writing at the moment which are about love and family and faith, yes, but can’t ignore the wildfires exhausting the vineyards outside their backdoor. I can’t ignore them so neither can the poems.

To have one’s writing actually do something about it, however, (albeit in a tiny, screaming-into-the-void kind of way) is something I’ve never experienced before. A friend once asked me why no one was writing poems that did something. I gave him a long, well-researched reply about a poem not intending but being. I still think that’s true. Poem’s don’t deliver slogans, they are worlds complete in and of themselves. Or should be. But I was wrong, too. A poem is a fully functioning world, yes — but it has glass walls and eyes that gesture towards our own world living outside it. A properly functioning poem has its textual world and another world strung though it like ribbon through a wool baby-jacket. In its mixing of the two… it can do something real. So I’m delighted to have a poem in this anthology and ask that if you can afford it, you consider buying a copy.

Copies are available here: https://goo.gl/s5mfME

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A New Poem in The Tangerine Magazine

DQ2uFxLWAAA6kDyThe Tangerine Magazine is a great magazine of new writing based in Belfast, where I went to university and probably one of my favourite places in the world.
Edited by Tara McEvoy and her team, the publication is interested in work that looks at the drunkenness of ‘things being various’. I’m not quite sure what that line, taken from Louis MacNeice’s ‘Snow’, means (and that’s a good thing) but I think about and feel it a lot.

So, I’m over-the-moon to have a poem in its pages this winter. You can buy a copy here, if you like. You should. It’s beautiful and packed with great writing.

Open Mic with Danniel Schoonebeek

In addition to my PhD (writing poems, writing a critical thesis and panicking — a lot) I’m also director of Oxford Writers’ House, a hub in Oxford connecting writers across the city’s universities and local community. Last Thursday we had our first event of the new academic year, an open-mic led by the US poet Danniel Schoonebeek. It was honestly a brilliant night. We packed out the Albion Beatnik Bookshop and it was standing room only.

Oxford is a weird place. It’s brilliant but it is weird. It has all these … institutions but no shuttling between them. I find it especially weird as a working-class, poor woman who… went to private school and Oxford and is a poet?? Is that possible? Maybe I mean my parents are working class having left school at 15. Regardless, people in the centre think I’m like them but I live with a third of myself deep in imposter syndrome, a third in socialist outrage and a third desperately hoping to be liked. Or I did. I don’t really anymore. I’m too busy putting those tensions into the page instead of my life. And I have to skills and experience (thank the Lord and the 80s economy that brought my parents to the city) to help encourage a little movement between the different  republics. Or at least that’s what I’m trying to do. So here’s a photo of me at our first event persuading our audience to question their capital and buy books like Danniel’s that try to disrupt the centre and get a little movement going.

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The Melita Hume Prize 2017

I’m delighted to have been shortlisted for the Melita Hume Prize 2017 from Eyewear Publishing. Eyewear have an incredibly strong track record in bringing exciting (and award winning) poetry collections into the world and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have City of Rivers under consideration. My fingers are crossed but I’m delighted just to be shortlisted. I really am.

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The Society of Young Publishers – Oxford – 27.09.2017

DKv9B5-XoAUPdv_What a fantastic night talking about getting published with literary agent Antony Harwood and Michael Baskar from Canelo press.  We packed out the Living Room at Oxford’s Turl Street Kitchen and it was a pleasure to answer the audience’s questions.

One thing that shocked me was the lack of knowledge about how to submit work to agents, literary magazines and presses. The writers in the audience were unsure about so much– did they need a MA in creative writing to submit (no), would they get feedback (probably not), were emails okay (usually, yes!). It got me thinking about how much vital and interesting work might be sitting in a drawer in a desk because an author might not know how to get it out there.

So, I will be writing a series for Oxford Writers’ House on how to publish your work. I’ll be interviewing some agents, poetry press owners and editors of literary magazines to get some insider opinions.