I did more writing than reading in April. In a way this was really good as I managed to get through a lot of editing for the poems I’ve written so far this year. I’ve now got more than the required 15 poems for my end of year review, so I’ll have a good batch to choose from before that takes place at the end of June. I feel in quite a good place now PhD-wise, but it meant that I kind of fell off the face of the earth for a few weeks over the Easter holidays.
I also started editing my PhD proposal. It became increasingly obvious as time went on that I needed to give it a big overhaul. My original proposal was written way back in January 2015 (when I first applied for a place on the programme) and my work has developed significantly since then. Some aspects I thought I’d be concerned with have fallen by the wayside and I’ve gone off in some very different directions. I’ve played around with my research questions and they seem to be serving me better now, so that’s settled a bit more as well!
Another of the PhD students – Matt Haw – has set up a poetry open mic at the Costa on campus. It’s going to be at 7pm every 2nd 4th and 6th Wednesday of term. Us Creative Writing students often bemoan the lack of a vibrant poetry scene on campus but we rarely do anything about it, so it’s wonderful that Matt’s done this. Matt had asked a good mix of students to read in advance – me amongst them – but we got a few walk up readers too! Professor Paul Farley opened the event for us and then we started with the undergrads – many of whom reading for the first time and doing hugely well – before moving on to a break for drinks. After the break we had a few spontaneous readers join us before we got started on the PhD’s – me, Kate and Amali who was launching her pamphlet Lotus Gatherers soon to be released from Bloodaxe!
I’ve not read a lot of my poetry at events before – just a few poems at my MA showcase and one at this year’s Litfest and I don’t read a lot with a mic so I don’t think I spoke up enough. Next time I need to lower the mic a bit and speak louder! But it was still a great experience.
I also managed to successfully wage war on my review backlog – finally working my way to being only a month behind what I’m currently reading. Hallelujah!
I’m trying to work my way through my Spring TBR at the moment and making decent enough progress through it. I’ve read the second book in Jen Williams Copper Cat series – more fun adventures with the Black Feather Three – and reread The Invisible Library before breaking into the second book in the series. I love Genevieve Cogman’s books so much – they’re fun reads but there’s so much more to them than that. The things she has to say about narrative, order and chaos are absolutely fascinating. So you get bookish philosophy and she makes you laugh too – what’s not to like?
I saw Helena Nelson’s guide to the poetry publishing industry reviewed on Josephine Corcoran’s blog and it sounded like the type of book that I needed to read. So I totted up the last of my birthday money and bought it. I’m glad I did, it was a really interesting read and a book I would highly recommend to anybody starting to submit their poetry to competitions/magazines or publishers. In many ways it was hugely depressing (most things about the current state of the arts world are unfortunately) but it was uplifiting too – helped by Helena’s wry sense of humour and her practical approach to near insurmountable obstacles.
I’ve been working my way through my suggested reading list for my PhD and I’m virtually caught up now. I’m in the middle of several collections at the moment – I’m rereading Michael Donaghy’s Collected Poems which are some of my favourites, trying to get my head around some W H Auden and racing through Alice Oswald’s stunning Memorial. Jacob Polley’s collection was recommended to me by my current tutor Paul (who gave the open mic his blessing) and is the only one I’ve finished. It’s a wonderful collection, strange and compelling – it’s really stuck with me.