It's once again some time since I last reported but plenty happened in writing terms (let alone in terms of what else was going on in the world) in the second half of 2020. Some of the highlights included the fact that, for the first time ever, I won a poetry competition outright. This was the Saltaire Festival Poetry Competition - my own local festival! It was one of those occasions where, on reading the 'Green Aire' theme, I seemed to know exactly what I wanted to write - about discovering local walks under lockdown, while more traditional destinations were unavailable. For anyone interested, an anthology of the winning poems and the short stories in its sister competition, is available for £7.50 + P&P.
As noted in a previous post, these things tend to come along like corporation buses, but I was no less delighted when I found out that I had won the Ilkley Literature Festival's Walter Swan Poetry Competition. Again, this festival is special to me as it is where I first decided I could actually do something with poetry, under Kim Moore's guidance at the 2014 festival. This feels like my most significant achievement yet. There's a video of me reading the winnng poem (I'm about 13 minutes 50 in, while comments by the judge, Professor John Whale, are at around 11 minutes).
It's only fair to mention some of the other journals and anthologies that have been kind enough to include my work. I have had poems in Dreich journal, The Angry Manifesto and Wet Grain, but I was most surprised to find myself in very illustrious company in 14 magazine, along with David Harsent, Zaffar Kunial and others.
In terms of anthologies, I was very gratified to find a poem in the voice of Baudelaire's mistress, Jeanne Duval accepted for Civic Leicester's Black Lives Matter collection, as well as to see my poem 'Second Avenue, Heaton, 1992', which had previously appeared on the Poem of the North website, reprinted in Fragmented Voices' The Language of Salt. There was also poem in Yaffle Press's anthology, Whirlagust II.
After a busy end to 2020, it was a great start to 2021 to find that my pamphlet, Smithereens, had been selected for publication by 4Word Press. There will be a launch announced shortly!