a question of success

bubble in the sky
Fame, readership, sales, wealth… what constitutes success for a writer?
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golden December

Sadly, the photo doesn’t really do justice to the glorious light that shone over the neighbours’ houses for a few minutes early this morning.

golden sunshine in December

Perhaps, though, it gives an idea of a warm glow, which is the feeling I got when I discovered that an article I wrote about Critiquing Poetry, which was published on Writing-World in 2001 is still being shared and considered useful by complete strangers.

Over the years it’s been copied and re-published without attribution, rehashed and plagiarised all over the web and quite possibly elsewhere.

This time, though, it was properly attributed and credited by the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas, who shared it on their FaceBoook page a couple of weeks ago.

kisses

Scabious flower

For no good reason, other than that it was growing close to a stone church wall, this flower reminded me of a poem written on a trip to the fiestas in southern Spain.

I remember taking an early draft to the local writers’ group for comments and being disconcerted when one of the women said she felt unqualified to comment because she didn’t know what I meant by kisses.

It’s true that I sometimes use everyday images in my poetry to represent bigger issues, but this wasn’t meant to be any kind of trick.

Sometimes, even when wrapped up in the weird perspective and mixed metaphors of an imperfect poem, a kiss is just a kiss.
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before breakfast

View across a lake with Queen Ann's lace in foreground
I went for an early walk today. Like the lake, the day had an umbelliferous edging. It also had moon daisies, above and below.

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pussyfooting

white cat
Over the years, I’ve given a lot of feedback on a lot of manuscripts, both poetry and prose. I’ve also been grateful to receive commentary on my own writing.

It’s never very nice to be told that your work has failed, that your scansion is all to pot and that your grammar and spelling need major revisions. But how are we to improve if no one points out the weaknesses in our work that we are too blind to see for ourselves?
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from the archives

English country church
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of poetry workshopping online; I’ve learned a lot from the experience and have crossed paths with all sorts of people. One young poet whose work I pulled apart fairly ruthlessly around a dozen years ago has just won the Forward Prize for poetry. (There were plenty of other people who took an interest in his work, so I claim no special credit.)
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blowing my own trumpet

Close up of band statue, l'Escala, Spain
This week I received a surprisingly enthusiastic reaction to some poems I had submitted for feedback; I also received some delightful comments on my blog from random robots.

I leave it to the reader to guess which is which:
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