I don't enter competitions very often but now and again I throw caution to the wind and I'm chuffed to have had two poems commended and selected in the Ver Poets Open Competition judged by Tammy Yoseloff. The Ver Poets, based in St Albans, celebrate their 50th anniversary this year and organise an annual programme of poetry readings, workshops, discussion groups and work in schools and hospitals, as well as the competition. They held the competition reading and presentation in St Albans' Maltings Theatre. Many of the 46 poets featured in the Prize Anthology were there to read their poems, including First Prizewinner, the very talented Elisabeth Sennitt Clough. The afternoon was rounded off with a sparkling reading from Tammy from her New and Selected, A Formula for Night .
As part of The Poetry Business's Writing School, this summer I will be working with the poet and indefatigable eco-campaigner Sally Goldsmith on poems by Elizabeth Bishop and Gwen Harwood. The heart of the 18- month course is close reading, probably the most useful thing you can do to improve your own writing. One of the homework tasks is to write a satsuma, "a fruity take on the sestina, in which the words are not repeated exactly but are homophones or worse: eg ‘Red’, ‘Read’ ‘Thread’. The poem should mention fruit and may have any number of segments (ie needn’t be six repeat words)". I guess we won't be choosing 'orange' as one of the words - no, actually, I think I might.
Jacqueline Saphra's All My Mad Mothers (Nine Arches Press); Michael Donaghy's Errata (OUP) amd Patricia Smith's Incendiary (Northwestern University Press)