Scottish Book Trust advice on Poetry Publishing

Liked this article on Scottish Book Trusts’ page as it seems more up to date than some of the other advice about ‘getting your work published’ that I’ve seen. Particularly I like the awareness that getting into magazines is as much about a preparedness to seek response for your work, rather than just getting a ‘track record’* of publishing. Also I like that the panel whose discussion this article reports on are showing an eagerness for new formats that include records of live performance: mixed-format is an area of poetry publishing that I think is making the most of that fact that there are many interesting poets who have a very both/and approach to the old page versus stage division.

*is ‘track record’ a metaphor about athletics? I’ve never thought about it before!

p.s. On the subject of interesting word use, rather than anything connected to the preceding content, I was really struck today, thinking about the word ‘minority’ meaning pre-adulthood, or something like it, as opposed to just the smaller category out of several. I don’t know why I was surprised, because the use of ‘minor’ to mean child is very common, but I’d never before made the connection that ‘minor’ and ‘minority’ were nearly the same word. It was this poem by Edwin Muir that got me onto the inside of the word with its very clever and particular, and well-loaded and placed I think, use of the word. I love what it does in my head. Also now I have Miss Jean Brodie in my head stating, ‘I am in my prime’, which I presume is mathematically a little different from her majority…


Elizabeth Jennings for Easter

I always think of Elizabeth Jennings as being an Easter Poet. Some of my favourite of her work engages with the pained contortions of the Christian ritual and story of the season. I think she’s someone who felt that the performance of pain, and subsequent ripening transformation had a true resonance with her inner experiences.

Here’s a link to some of her work on the Warwick University webpage. I’ve just read the first, ‘A Requiem’, and really enjoyed it. The formal patterning of her verses in it replicate her point that it is in restrained observance of trodden form that mystery can be at its most powerfully effective. I think there’s a sort of perversity in that standpoint which I like (!) and which I think may even be true, or at least as true as the opposite view. It puts her in my mind with poets like Edwin Muir who have been posthumously chastened for paucity of expression, mean-ness, which I can find moving.

Steven Cox show

Yo. Was out and about at some of the art openings in Edinburgh tonight. Thought I’d say a word about Steven Cox’s painting show, which is on this weekend only at The Old Ambulance Depot (btw, the old ambulance depot is a great space in a secret courtyard run by a design agency I think. seems to be accessible to art students and early career artists, which makes it doubly valuable).

Steven showed paintings done on small canvases (+one bigger one), which all were more or less brown. But wait! Don’t be fooled into thinking that would be boring – they were great, and because he’d carefully controlled the different processes between each painting, I felt like he achieved a huge variety of expression within what seemed like an impossible constraint. The subtle patterning of paint and organic-seeming change and flow within and between the nicely-spaced-out canvases gave me the feeling of listening to different expressions of the same musical idea, like a book of fugues. I should also say I loved the titles. There was one called ‘Days of Being Wild’ which, when you looked at the brown-ness in front of you seemed incongruous, but then forced your brain to start making a connection between the words and the image. I found myself thinking about black-outs, things your eyes might see if opened in the dark, shapes forming that might be imagined or might be as much as you can see of the real, and also feelings. There’s also the other meaning of ‘wild’ present, as in nature, where the brown makes a more literal sense. It felt pretty rich. I’m lucky – it was also the second great painting show I’d seen that night after Serge Charchoune at The Talbot Rice Gallery.


Here are all the titles in Steven’s show for interest. I recommend getting down if you can: 11am-6pm tomorrow, Sunday and Monday.


Worlds Apart



A Moveable Feast

The Younger

How Near How Far

Days of Being Wild

Roaming Wild Pastures

The Elder

Where It Belongs


Writing them all out just now, they made me think of the poem titles of Edwin Muir, the way they seem to sit in a mythic present, if such a thing is possible. I think the one in this picture might be ‘Roaming Wild Pastures’, but apologies if I’m wrong.