Poem of the Week #3

To tie in with the previous post about Visual Verse, this week’s PotW looks at the first poem I ever had accepted by them.

Visual Verse

This week I want to tell you about Visual Verse, an online anthology I was introduced to a couple of years ago and which I have been regularly submitting work to ever since. The idea behind Visual Verse is that at the start of each month they post an image, that visitors are invited to use as the starting point for a poem or piece of short fiction of between 50 and 500 words. The catch is that from first looking at the image to submitting your work to the website is supposed to take no longer than an hour.

You don’t necessarily have to write about what you see. You’re invited to use the image as a starting point, nothing more, so it’s up to you to decide how you use it. You can describe it, if that’s what you want, or you use it as a trigger for some old memory you’ve been thinking of writing about for some time, or even write about something completely different then try and edit it in some way so that it at least has some vague connection to the image.

You get an hour, so you submit the best you can do in that time, and the chances are, you won’t feel that what you’ve submitted is as good as it can ever be. But that’s okay. They’re not looking for the greatest works of literature ever produced – unless you can give them that within the hour – they want something that’s interesting, that’s new and exciting, that challenges.

I warn you, it’s not always easy. I give it a go every month, and while sometimes I’m genuinely amazed by what I’ve been able to produce within the time limit, sometimes (like this month) I find myself forty-five minutes into my hour with almost nothing to show for my efforts. And then that final ten minutes or so becomes a desperate race to get something – anything – down on paper and given at least a basic edit to ensure I’m not submitting something I’d be ashamed to see in print.

Each month they publish about 60 – 100 submissions, which means there’s a good chance of seeing you work in print relatively often if you take the challenge seriously and submit every month. At the moment I’m running at just over 50%.

Getting your poems published is always a pleasure, but for me, getting them written in the fist place is just as important, and that’s where Visual Verse is most helpful. It makes me write, and it makes me write a lot more than a single poem each month. Once I’ve written and submitted my first effort, I’ll often return to the image over the following weeks and write several more, maybe working up ideas I initially rejected, or finding something completely fresh with the benefit of a more relaxed timescale. In terms of my poetry, this past year has probably been my most prolific ever, and much of the reason is definitely because of Visual Verse.

And on top of this, there’s also the fact that I get to read an entire anthology of other people’s work. Every month. For free. What’s not to like?

You can read my published work on Visual Verse here

Poem of the week

The Poem of the week part of the website is now up and running. The idea is that each week (hopefully) I’ll put up something new from my back catalogue for you to read and enjoy. But not only will you get the poem itself, you’ll also be able to read something about it – maybe where the idea came from, or how I went about writing it, or maybe I’ll talk a bit about where it was first published, if it ever was. Hopefully you’ll find this interesting and informative, not just as a reader but also, perhaps, as a potential poet yourself.

To kick things off I’ve chosen something quite old and not at all like most of my other work. But the creative process was interesting and also very well documented, so I thought it would be a good place to start. Enjoy.

The beginning of a beautiful friendship

So, welcome to the new website. Apologies to those of you who visited the previous version (there were a few) and found it to be somewhat basic, static and rather disappointing. I have to say I agree with you, and I’m pretty sure I visited it way more often than any of you. But this time things will be different. For a start it will look nicer. And there’ll be more to look at. And I’ll update it more often than once every few months.

I have grand plans.

By now I have a fairly sizeable back catalogue of work, and unless I do something about it myself, it’s unlikely most of it will ever see the light of day. So my first plan is to make a lot of it available to read, or download, for free. From time to time there’ll be new stuff as well, and who knows, maybe someday there’ll even be stuff you can actually buy. Proper books. For real money.

But I don’t just want to share the end product, I also want to share the experience of being a writer. For now, I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to do this, but I have a few ideas and I’ll experiment with them over the next few weeks…or months.

There. That gives you something to look forward to.

Getting going

Hello all, and welcome to the new look website. Most of the content doesn’t yet exist, so apologies if you come across the site before I’ve finished making it, but rest assured there will be plenty of new material appearing in the coming days…and hopefully at regular and frequent intervals after that.