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Poetry Social Life

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Poetry Social Life

This week I received an email from a charity that supports creative programmes in the arts world. I first heard about the Jerwood charity when I applied, unsuccessfully, for poetry mentoring with Pascale Petit on the 2017 Arvon mentoring programme. The funding for the 3 successful poets, 3 prose writers and 3 playwright mentees on the Arvon mentoring programme comes from Jerwood.

“Jerwood Visual Arts is a national programme supporting visual arts practice through which Jerwood Charitable Foundation works with early career artists to commission and present new work.”

Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships

The email informed me that I'd been put forward for a fellowship. That doesn't mean I've got a fellowship, it means I'm able to apply for one! It's a partnership between Arts Council England and Jerwood.

“The programme runs biennially for three editions between 2017 and 2022 supporting a total of nine artists, three Fellowships per edition, with no expectation of published or performed work as a result.”

Draughty Times

So I've got until 22nd March to draft my application. I know what kind of pitch I want to make in my fellowship application but that's going to have to stay under wraps until after the closing date :)

Poetry's Social Life

I'm so excited about applying for this, but there's a related suggestion I'd like to make, for anybody submitting poems to magazines and competitions. My pamphlet, Dressing Up was a regular competition entry, judged anonymously so there wasn't much insight that could have been gleaned from reading Cinnamon Press's current books, except to gauge the quality of writing needed to stand a chance, but many of my other positive results since 2015 have come through email and social media contact with editors and poets alike. My two Poetry Wales articles came from talking about blindness and disability issues on Twitter with the Poetry Wales editor, Nia Davies; similarly when I spotted online radio station Brum Radio's Poets show editor Helen Calcutt talking about blindness matters I commented back and said that I was a blind poet and got myself invited onto an episode that is due to record this time next month.

Pay attention when the submission guidelines say about reading previous issues of the magazine so that you know that your work is a good fit with what they publish. Apart from anything it saves you wasting your time and theirs when you send them a haiku when you would have noticed by reading a recent issue that they love long poems. You've better things to do with your time and words than sending it out somewhere that is likely to be a terrible fit, and they've more urgent things to do with their time than read your haiku and have to dig out the rejection template to politely decline your work.

My advice is to try and get to know the editors of those magazines and interact with them through the world of social media — read their blog and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

As sighted people you can obviously buy a copy of the magazine through the online store, assuming they have one, whereas I have a slight advantage, generally needing to contact the editor or the first point of contact person to request a PDF format that my screen reader can read aloud for me. But there's no reason why you can't email and say that you want to submit but would welcome their advice on which of the back issues they'd recommend from which to get the best feel for the magazine — you know it's not a question of deep insight but it opens the door. Maybe the editor has a favourite issue that would get suggested because it focusses on the use of food in poetry, responding to BBC offloading Great British Bake Off to Channel 4, to which you might respond that you love poems about food or that you harbour hopes of baking a six tier cake for your son's wedding ... and there you go, you're in a conversation that means the editor knows more than just your name and your conversation may continue long after you've submitted your poem.

When you share posts from Facebook and Twitter profiles and comment on them you get to know the editors that way too. There are usually a lot of people sharing Facebook posts and re-tweeting Twitter news, but editors do notice who is following them and sharing their news and submission calls, and your relationship can develop that way.

The Size of the Matter

The poetry world is very very small, and you often find that one editor knows half a dozen editors of other magazines that you read and submit to, and sometimes your name may get dropped into a conversation, online or off, or an editor might see you comment on a mutual editor friend's Facebook post and take an interest in what you're saying. I don't follow a mega load of people on Facebook but many of the names circulating the UK scene are sharing 25 mutual friends with me.

That's my tip, don't neglect your social network. If you start sharing their posts then they usually share some of yours back, especially if you say nice things about them. Next thing you know an unexpected message might appear in your inbox asking whether you'd like to write a poem or an article for a particular magazine issue, or whether you'd like to apply for a rather awesome opportunity :)

#JerwoodCompton #Poetry #PoetryWales #BrumRadio #SocialNetworks

Published inblindnesscompetitions and submissionsPoetry

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