Workshop, 10th April 2018

It’s Spring, both officially and in spirit, which means it’s submissions time again.  Spring is the traditional time for poets of all stripes to start thinking about writing that powerful and incisive sequence, a love story centred on the rise and fall of the Soviet Union’s Reinforced Concrete Industry, for example, so that one can really get going on it during the long summer break from the comfort of the garden recliner when one should really be taking care of the leylandii infestation.  So, while one is sketching out the structure and conjuring up some really powerful similes around forests of steel rods and the hopelessly intertwined affection Yuri discovers he has for Olga on the 7:30 tram to Magnitogorsk, what should one do with the treasure chest of encapsulated veracity that one has been creating all winter?

Now, I would not demean my devoted readership by suggesting you simply send stuff to poetry magazines, that is not the cut of my drift, heaven forfend.  First there is the sheer drudgery of printing out and packaging ten of one’s best recent works to as many as 300 national poetry magazines.  Fortunately, my Man is happy enough to take care of this Sisyphean task for me, and he gets on with it so well that it has been quite a while since I last noticed him printing anything out or stuffing an envelope.  When I last queried him about this, he told me he prefers to carry out the whole ugly business during the late hours, after I am safely tucked up with my Homer and my Horlicks.  He assures me that as soon as one of these hateful organs responds with anything which resembles an acceptance he will let me know, though it has been a while now since we got any form of response from any magazine.  Rotters.

No, what I am alluding to is the growing plethora of specialist on-line publications and web sites springing up all over the world wide wonderweb.  Narrow, and hopelessly dilettante some of these sites may appear but they often serve a discerning group of connoisseurs who would never succeed in getting a publishing house interested in their subject, although some might argue there is a good reason for this.

This week’s Workshop was anything but maven-like.  Pat Francis got us going with a theme familiar to any urban denizen; the neighbour one never gets to know.  John Hurley spun an intriguing tale of the secret left to him by a Great Aunt, but did he tell us what the secret was?  James Priestman, continuing his drive to open the Bible’s stories to people who might count themselves as philistines, told a story of Abimelech, who was, er, a Philistine.  Peter Francis brought us a poem with more than a nod to ‘In The Time Of The Breaking of Nations’.  Alan Chambers is one with the spirit of the season, with his new piece describing a slow walk into Spring.  Nick Barth keeps coming across the same stretch of road, no matter where he goes.  Owen Gallagher conjured the recurring memory of parting in the mind of an Irishman abroad.  Finally, Daphne Gloag reprised a piece centred around an Assyrian lion in the British Museum, captured at the moment of death.

I came to the conclusion that nothing would improve some of these earnest discussion groups more than a poem from your faithful correspondent.  I am certain that there is nothing that Pylon of the Month would desire more than my angry tirade against the ruination of the skyline by the electricity transmission industry.  I am certain that the peaceable and light-hearted Moustache Waxer’s Companion will jump at the chance to publish my wry castigations on the exploitation of bees by the haircare industry.  Likewise I have written pieces for Cheese Monthly, Cravat Club, Crevette Club and Clavier Club just to mention a few targets in the cees on my planning spreadsheet.  Of course, the administrative burden of identifying and sifting all these fine, specialist web sites is considerable, and I am already of the opinion that it might be another area where my Man can assist me with the day-to-day nitty-gritty of actually sending stuff out.  As always, I am sure will be eager to step in.  If you have a gentleman’s gentleman or other staff I hope you have found this idea helpful, and if you have been, thank you for reading.




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