What a few exciting months of poetry I have experienced. To sum up in a few sentences: I have attended the amazing Swindon festival of poetry (5 days of incredible poetry, with some of the nicest people on this earth), I have taken on editorship of a poetry website, I have won my first award (almost…), had my first, maybe last, Villanelle published and I attended the forward prize for poetry awards.
So let’s start this chronologically – I had my Villanelle published. It was a strange moment when I realised I was writing a Villanelle, not being one to steer towards the formal side of poetry. I found the experience quite unsettling, but to then have it accepted by the great Fat Damsel website was the icing on the cake. You can read the Villanelle “Wrap Dresses” here – it is a poem about motherhood and our own unique place in this world.
The wonderful Carrie Etter offered me a ticket to go to the Forward Prize poetry event – having read and enjoyed all of the first book nominees, I was very excited to be seeing the poets in action and to be part of such a great celebration of poetry. The evening was truly remarkable with so much talent on one stage, but the star of the show was the best collection winner “Claudia Rankine” – her collection “Citizen: An American Lyric” is truly astonishing and her delivery of the poems on the night was a lesson to us all.
Next is the (I don’t have enough words to describe just how incredible this experience was) Swindon festival of Poetry. 5 days of back to back poetry events, workshops and readings. The entire event is up there as one of the best experiences of my life, the people, the poetry and the sheer energy was unforgettable. It’s tough to nail it down to a few things, but the highlights for me were:
Kei Miller reading from his first two collections – it has changed the way I look at my poetry and was truly inspirational.
Jo Bell – as the resident poet she had a lot to live up to – I think the key to making this work was to make every visitor feel special and Jo did this in so many ways, from the readings of her work, to holding great workshops, helping out the organiser’s in their hour of need and putting up with all our ridiculous questions about living on a longboat! Jo really was the star of the show and it wouldn’t have been the same experience, had she not so willingly thrown herself into the event.
Brilliant readings and workshops from Jacqueline Saphra and Robert Vas Dias – other stand-out readings were (and there are a lot), Jo Bell and Jonathan Davidson in a train carriage keeping us all entertained, Tania Hershman and her wonderful blend of flash fiction and poetry, Luke Kennard delivered some wonderfully varied poetry and has definitely gained me as a new follower! There was an incredibly powerful reading from Isabel Palmer, I can’t wait until I have some time to dive into her new pamphlet. Then there was the exuberant performance of Sophie Herxheimer – she had us all entertained and surprised with the many giant sized poems she provided. It’s tough to recap everything, but there really were so many highlights (some of which haven’t even been covered here) – it will be the must attend event of 2016!
Next up is my (almost) award – I was runner up in the Candelstick Press micro poem competition. It was along the theme of light and is obviously restricted to under 140 letters. My poem used the space available in Twitter quite effectively (I thought) and aimed to play with the meaning of the word light, whilst tying into the process of writing. Take a look below and let me know what you think.
— Stephen Daniels (@stephendaniels) September 29, 2015
Finally, we come to my editorship of a fantastic poetry website “Amaryllis”, Poetry Swindon’s – poetry blog. It has published brilliant poets and has amazing poetry. I am extremely proud to be taking it forward and I hope I can enhance the already wonderful collection of poetry featured on the site. I look forward to seeing your submissions to the site.