I’ve had four poems published this month – if that seems a high success rate, you should see the number of rejections on my submissions spreadsheet! My success rate ain’t that great, if you look at the bigger picture. The trick is to keep sending poems out, as advocated by Jo Bell . Keep writing new poems, and keep sending poems out.
So this is the first in an occasional series of posts How I came to write …
Scrabble deluxe, which you can read in The North 60. This is one of my party pieces, and I’m delighted to see it in print. It harks back to my teenage years in the 1980s and painful inter-generational family games of Scrabble, in which we passive-aggressively mirrored our political stances. This was Nottingham in the 1980s, at a time of the miner’s strike, AIDS iceberg leaflets, and the News of the Screws taking a homophobic agenda. My family was divided on a number of those subjects. For the record, my grandmother (UDM, homophobic) played quim on a triple word score and completely nonplussed my father (NUM, homophobic at that point in time).
(Yes, this is the actual scrabble board, and tiles are really this worn.)
Intrinsic, which you can read in Gutter 18 (and which comes bundled with the must-read Freedom Papers). I’m so pleased that Gutter has not only survived but is flourishing, so I’m thrilled to be in this particular issue among so many excellent pieces. I wrote Intrinsic initially to take to Edinburgh’s God Damn Debut Slam, at which you have to perform something written in the previous month. The germ of the poem was a horrible moment at work where I found I completely lost the word intrinsic in a meeting where I really needed to NOT experience memory failure. It’s an occasional side effect of my anti-cancer medication. Usually I have strategies to deal with it but on this occasion, late on a Friday afternoon, I was too tired (another post-cancer phenomenon). Awkward as it was, there was a poem in it. My father is in this poem too.
Cowrie, which is available in issue 4 of the excellent online journal of LGBTQ+ poetry, Impossible Archetype. Cowrie is an Iona poem, superficially…
And last but not least Night walker, published in the first issue of the new Scottish zine Nitrogen House. This poem was also first drafted on Iona, and it’s about a transformative night walk in the pitch black of the island, when I met a cat and we, well, melded …
3 thoughts on “Four poems published this August”
PS very impressed with the words on the board. My family was pretty hot at it too.
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Jay, this was a fascinating blogpost – great to read your insights into (and agenda in relation to, if ‘agenda’ is the correct word) the creative process and its antecedents. I think it’s also useful for other writers or aspiring writers to read such a post.
Oh I lose words too, usually at crucial moments – and I don’t have your good reasons for it.
Thanks Roselle! I always enjoy posts by other writers along these lines, and reflection is part of my process too, so thought I’d give it a whirl.
I also sometimes blame my age for the lost words … 🙂