Well it's been a month since my last post and it's been a menagerie of poetry beasts and not-so poetic animals! Needless to say, I've been working like a whirling dervish and here's a summary :)
Cinnamon Press, publisher of my pamphlet, Dressing Up, had a competition in which the first prize was a free year of mentoring on either poetry, short stories or a novel. Apart from using my creative writing dissertation in poetry as the basis of my first full poetry collection, another burning urge post-MA is to turn my long form fiction assignment into a full novel. So I spent October focussed on that and got my entry (up to the first 10,000 words, a synopsis and a personal statement) submitted the day before the 30th of October deadline. I won't hear any results for around three months, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed (which is making it very hard to type anything new, haha!)
I've been memorising two poems for the Live Poets open mic event at Cinema & Co in Swansea tomorrow, Monday 11 November, 2019. Poems read at Live Poets tend to be politically charged, either overtly or subtly. Recent events there have responded to the issue of climate change and my two poems look at the mess human beings have made of the world. I find the most sobering thing is that I wrote the first poem, The Less Received (adapting the title of a collection by Larkin), in my first year of sixth form. That was 1989 when I was 16 years old. Thirty years have passed and, when I think of the Extinction Rebellion protests of justifiable anger at governments and large organisations, I wonder what on earth have we, as your ordinary man / woman / family in the street, really done in the last 30 years to make the situation any better? In the grand scheme of things the answer is precious little.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
(from Walden by H. D. Thoreau)
My second poem, ‘Mother to Child’ is the point where Mother Earth sadly washes her hands of us ... a point that is getting scarily close.
On Friday I will know the result of my last year of hard work ... I'll know what grade I've got for my MA in creative writing! I'd love it to be a distinction but I fear it won't be. Although all my poetry module assignments have received distinction grades, I read some information circulated by the university a couple of weeks ago. To get an overall distinction a student must average 65 percent for their six first term end of module assignments; I averaged 69 percent so all good there. The three second term assignments need to be 70 percent ... mine are 69 percent which, with a good final dissertation mark should pull it up over the 70 percent distinction grade ... but the second semester marks are not average marks like the first semester ones. The second semester requires all assignments to receive 70+ percent. I got 72 for my Poetry 2 module, 70 for my Art of the Short Story Module, but only 65 percent for Creative Non-Fiction. I suspect that 65 percent mark will limit me to a merit only. Not that I'd be disappointed in a merit ... compared to my undergrad chemistry BSc results a merit / borderline distinction would be a magnificent turnaround :) It just makes me wonder whether I should have taken Writing the Self instead of Creative Non-Fiction!
The Voice of Experience
If you have anything in print, always always always carry a couple of copies of it wherever you go! Naturally the best source of sales is at poetry readings and open mic events, but I've sold two copies of my pamphlet and one of the audiobook version on two different train journeys. I've sold one at an art exhibition I attended to support a friend. Yesterday I went to a conference about how technology is being used and developed in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes. I lost my sight and have a kidney transplant as the result of diabetic complications and, still being a bit of a geek, I like to know what technological devices are currently available and might soon be available. Diabetes Cymru allocated two sighted guides to meet me from the taxi and help me to the auditorium and out again to get my lunch. As we talked before the first speaker, I mentioned that I wrote poetry ... ‘Just a moment,’ I said, ‘I have a copy of my pamphlet in my bag!’ ... first sale ensued :) Then while I was talking to her and the man she was at the time talking to, she told the man I wrote poetry,
‘Oh really? That's marvellous ... can I see a copy?’
Indeed you can, sir! Sale number two! Those two sales paid for my taxi ride home ;) I live in the poetry economy ;)
Tune in next week to hear the results of my MA! I'm curious whether I'll get to see what my classmates achieved. Back in my chemistry MSc days there was no university intranet or student university email to reveal results privately, so we found out what we'd got by locating our names on a list of results pinned to a notice board!
#Poetry #Prose #Mentoring #Memorisation #ClimateChange #Swansea #Cinema&Co