Congratulations to Dom Bury whose powerful and unsettling sestina won the National Poetry Competition. Dom is proof that staying true to your own vision is the way forward.
If you're having one of those days when nothing surfaces, listen to Caroline Bird on the Lunar Poetry podcast. She talks, among other things, about the balance between writing as exploration and writing to be published - how important the private space is. The estimable Chrissy Williams, fine poet and dauntless organiser of the annual Poetry Book Fair, has written a series of blogs, interviewing poets who have recently brought out a first collection. These are fascinating, in particular, the various responses to the question: "How much do you need the validation of your work by others?" Pertinent to me as I'm trying not to get caught up in the urge to get new poems out there too soon, especially as I'm rather taken by the challenge to amass 100 rejections this year as a spur to submitting. So far I'm eight down and 92 to go but this is counterbalanced by having had four new poems accepted - by Under the Radar, The Fenland Reed and Magma. And this is the year I try for publication of my first collection - a nerve-wracking process in which it's all too easy to lose sight of what is most important for my own sense of myself - writing better.
Emily Hasler's The Built Environment (Pavilion); Jane Commane's Assembly Lines (Bloodaxe); Pauline Sewards' This is the Band (Hearing Eye); and the National Poetry Prize Winners Anthology.