A centenary of sorts

Hello Poetry people!

I’m not going to call this a ‘Smörgåsbord of Sunday-afternoon poetic goodness’. But, though I say so myself, there’s a lot of good stuff here for your delight and delectation. Some of it mine, some of it other people’s.

I started this post when it became clear that (much to my surprise) I was close to acquiring 100 followers on Twitter. A tiny number in the greater, Rupi Kaur scheme of things but a not-insignificant social media milestone for me. An audience of 100 – however ephemeral they are – is a pretty big deal for any Scotland-based, auto-didactic, poet-of-a-certain-age.

Then, just as I’d made a start on this post, someone unfollowed me and the number dropped back to 99.

Today, however, it seems that the necessary reinforcement has arrived. As of this morning, my tally stood at 100 followers again. Hello! And welcome all. You’ll excuse me if I keep this brief(‘ish). I need to get it written and published before another one of you abandons me for someone more interesting.

I wanted to celebrate my Twitter centenary by gathering together some links to a few of the things that I’ve had published  online recently. So, without further ado, here they are:-

  • The Towers – which was published (a wee while ago, if truth be told) in the Falkirk-based magazine “Untitled” (available in hard copy and as a free, downloadable .pdf)
  • The Settlement – which was published in “Intermission”, the Blue Nib Magazine’s ‘digital mid-quarter supplement’ and which may or may not be available via the link tagged to its title. (I can access it because I’ve registered as a free member with The Blue Nib, it may not be available to the non-member public though.)
  • Three poems – The Astronomer, Grief and Jenny Dark – which have appeared in Issue 37 of “The Blue Nib” (available in hard copy for €14.50 or online – though they’re behind a sort of paywall and you’ll have to register as a free member to read them)
  • The Letters – which was published online in “PENning” – Scottish PEN’s  biannual online journal (available to read online or download for free) and
  • The Truth – which was published as part of Bill Herbert’s and Andy Jackson’s excellent online anthology series, “New Boots and Pantisocracies: Neubooterdammerung”.

(BTW – If you’re not familiar with any of these titles, especially the last two, you’ll probably find much more in them to enjoy than just my work.)

The delay between submitting work and seeing it either in print or online always makes (for me, at least) for a degree of dislocation. You look at the piece again, in its new setting and sort of wonder – “Did I write that?”. “Is that the sort of thing I write?”. “Still?”.

I suppose this is slightly exacerbated for me, in this instance, because some of these (“The Towers” and “The Letters” in particular) are among my oldest poems. The two I’ve just mentioned are also two of the poems that I’ve performed the most.

That said, there’s also a great deal of joy to be had from placing a piece that you really believe in, even if it takes multiple attempts and many submissions. I love “The Letters”, I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written (even though it ruined my ability to write poetry for abut seven years – but that’s another story) and I was delighted when it finally found a home – even more, that it found its home amongst all of the other marvellous work in PENnings.

It’s a similar story with “Jenny Dark”, which is a poem that I, personally, have loved ever since I wrote it and which was submitted more than once before it found a home in “The Blue Nib”. The moral[s] of this story being – never give up on work you believe in but, at the same time, accept that not everybody will look at your work the same way that you do and what you think are your ‘best’ poems aren’t always the ones that other people will want to publish.

At least, not straight away. It’s sometimes the case that poems have ‘their time’ and you can find that things that have languished in your drawer for a while and are re-submitted may suddenly be accepted whereas before no-one wanted them. It’s a fickle world and judging the relative ‘merits’ of poetry is one of this fickle world’s most fickle pursuits.

Anyway, that’s you (and me) just about all caught up. By way of a final ‘Thank you’ to all my Twitter followers, old and new – there’s a link below to an audio recording of one of these poems. The recording was made at Unit 55 Studios, Cumbernauld and features the voice of Jen Hughes. Listen to the end.

And finally, finally – this is a link to a video of me performing one of my unpublished poems “The Revolution”, at Lloyd Robinson‘s and Matt MacDonald‘s awesome monthly Edinburgh open mike night “The God Damn Debt Slam”. It’s not one of the poems in this round-up but this seems like as good a place for it as any. Don’t say I’m not good to you.