Archive for the ‘Publishing (other)’ Category

ONS Featured Magazines: Amelia’s Magazine

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

amelia's magazine
(Photo credit)

What is it?

Amelia’s Magazine was printed biannually for 5 years from 2004-2009 across 10 issues, but it is now an online publication described as “the place to come for exclusive articles on the best underground creative projects in the worlds of art, fashion, music, illustration, photography, craft and design.” Amelia is a passionate promoter of all things creative and has been working for ten years to bring brilliant, original content to both print media and the interwebs.

Why feature it?

We’re rapidly approaching the 10-year anniversary of the creation of Amelia’s Magazine. And to mark this auspicious occasion, founder Amelia Gregory wants to do something super special. Enter the Amelia’s Magazine Kickstarter: an exciting campaign to produce a truly beautiful, ambitious and one of a kind print book featuring artworks, writing and, well… magic. Here’s the campaign video to give you a taste:

Why should I back this?

OK, for one, it’s going to be an amazingly beautiful book and I know that I, for one, want to have one of these babies on my bookshelf. Two, for your money you get to help create a publication that will promote the work of artists and writers at every stage of their careers — and a linked three, you’ll get to discover many brand new exciting names you might not otherwise have come across. Four, Christmas is a-comin’ and if you’re anything like me you know about a million people who’d just love to have something like this to unwrap when Santa visits them. And a not-unimportant five, if this book comes into being, it will contain at least one of my poems! Is that in itself not reason enough? *pauses to buff nails*

What should I pledge?

I am a great believer that no individual should ever feel pressured into giving up their money, so you should give whatever you can afford to give. It might be that that is not money: if you’re trying to choose between backing this Kickstarter and making sure you pay rent this month, then stop trying! However, if you can’t afford to give you can still support Amelia and her amazing book by sharing the campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or any of your other networks.
If you can afford to give, then hooray! You should definitely check out the rewards Amelia is offering for the various pledge options. I was blown away by how generous they are — your average Kickstarter-er is far too keen to offer only symbolic rewards, in my humble opinion! Amelia’s are far from that: for a mere £20, for example, you get a free copy of the book delivered to your door before Christmas!

How can I find out more?

First and foremost, watch the video and read the information on the Kickstarter page. But also, make sure you check out the project’s hashtag, #TWWDNU (that which we do not understand, the theme of the book). On that hashtag you can get a sneak peek at some of the amazing work being produced by visual artists to help make this publication extra-specially-gorgeous. You can also use the hashtag to spread the word about why people should pledge to back this great project.

So what are you waiting for! Go give!


Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

You should read this: “Be The First To Like This: New Scottish Poetry”

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014


Forgive the dullness of my photographs, everyone. I am having a totally jam-packed week — working six and a half days — so the only time I could find to take pictures of this rather excellent book was about 7.45am. The sun was only just starting to come up so the light was crap, but I’d just got back from a wee holiday and was so excited to find this book waiting for me, I just had to share it asap!

^ Look! Robert Crawford has heard of me!

I was present at the StAnza Poetry Breakfast in 2009, when Stuart Kelly announced that the reason Scottish poets weren’t winning Eric Gregory Awards anymore was because Scotland didn’t have any poets under thirty who were talented enough. I was 23 at the time and halfway through my MSc in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Edinburgh. I was also utterly baffled by his statement. At the time, I was surrounded by talented Scottish poets under thirty — and I was aware that my knowledge of the Scottish poetry scene wasn’t even that in-depth. Back then, I’d never heard of the Eric Gregory Award, but I got the gist that it was apparently the only yardstick worth using to measure a young poet’s potential. (A yardstick invented by the literary establishment south of the border, natch… though of course I drank the Kool-Aid anyway and subsequently entered it.)

^ Look mum, I’m famous!

Since then, Niall Campbell has of course broken the no-Scottish-poets-winning-the-Gregory streak, bagging one in 2011. (That guy sure does know how to write a ‘yardstick approved’ poem — in their Edwin Morgan Award judges’ report, Jen Hadfield and Stewart Conn called him “a safe pair of hands.” Thank goodness one of us Scots knows how to do this stuff!) But I still contend that Stuart Kelly was wrong in 2009. He mistook “young Scottish poets aren’t being noticed by the London-based literary establishment” for “young Scottish poets aren’t that good.” If only that were the reason, Stuart — if only.

In fact, young Scottish poets are great — and there are loads of us. We may not be doing the sort of work that wins Coveted Prizes from Established Institutions, but if anything, that makes us all the more exciting. Be The First To Like This, edited by Colin Waters and published by Vagabond Voices, is a hugely varied, deliciously riotous gathering-together of Scotland’s fearsome gaggle of new and upcoming voices. I’m utterly delighted and genuinely humbled to be part of this colourful crowd — and guess what? All the poets I’m joined by in this volume are SUPER FREAKING TALENTED.
(Pardon the swearing. It had to be done.)

^ Thanks to my talented baby sister for taking my classy author photo!

Some of my all-time faves are here. People whose writing careers I’ve been keeping an eye on for years, watching their stars slowly rise: Colin McGuire, Ryan Van Winkle, Marion McCready, Theresa Munoz. Some of the people here are not only talented poets but also, like me, gobby fighters for the rights of minority poets: I’ll admit, I’m thinking especially of the excellent Jenny Lindsay. Some folk I only discovered more recently, but I’m loving the fact that BTFTLT gives me chance to see more of their work: Nuala Watt, Sam Tongue, Billy Letford. And there are also names here that I didn’t know at all — I’m excited to make brand new discoveries!

Be The First To Like This proves for me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Scotland is in fact a land rich in talented young poets. As the product description itself says, throw a stone in Edinburgh or Glasgow and you will hit one. Believe me? Buy the book. Don’t believe me? Still buy the book: you clearly need to be educated.


Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

You should read this: “Furies, A Poetry Anthology of Women Warriors”

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Furies Poetry Anthology #FBSFuries

2014 is the year of the #ReadWomen2014 campaign. It’s sad that such a campaign exists in the twenty-first century, to be honest… how the heck can it be that we still live in a world where men who write are “writers,” but women who write are “female writers”? Just the other day, a friend of mine asked their Facebook friends for recommendations of poetry to read… and the first fifteen or so recommendations were all for male poets. When I queried this, one of the commenters responded, “well, [person who requested poetry] has just been through a binge of reading women, so I didn’t recommend any!” It’s a weird attitude, but it’s alarmingly common: most of the time you read, and then sometimes you read women.

It’s because of these bizarrely 1950s-style attitudes (and this is all before you get to the really depressing stuff, like the VIDA count or this, by the way) that I am always keen to get involved in projects that promote and encourage the work of women writers. Furies, the first ever poetry book from the brilliant all-female book-geek’s dream that is For Books’ Sake, is very much one such project.

This is the poetry of wronged and revolutionary women, the new verse that emerges when poets take a sinner and spin her anew. Here, Furies arise from history and myth to set the story straight once and for all. For many, the Lazarus trick spans only the space of a verse in which they tell their tale. The rest of the resurrection, the living on beyond the page, relies on the reader to keep telling and retelling, and then telling once more. Traditionally, ghosts haunt because they still have something left to say. This is their stage.

FURIES is the first poetry collection from For Books’ Sake, compiled following an open call for submissions that attracted over 700 entries from across the globe… all profits from the collection (a minimum of £5 per copy) will be donated to Rape Crisis England & Wales.

Furies Poetry Anthology #FBSFuries

Furies Poetry Anthology #FBSFuries

Furies features my poem Poltergeistrix, which you can also hear a recording of right here — and I get a rather lovely mention in the introduction. Always a little anthology bonus! If you want to read the whole poem — and of course, the many other fine poems by other women warriors! — you can order your copy of the anthology here.

Furies Poetry Anthology #FBSFuries

This is what a woman warrior looks like.


Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

You should read this: “Aquarium” by Michael Conley

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014


OK, that name sounds familiar.

It should! Michael is a ONS regular — I’ve been a big, big fan of his work ever since I first saw it years ago in my submissions pile for Read This Magazine. Since then, he’s had work appear in Read This Press’ 2011 anthology Starry Rhymes: 85 Years of Allen Ginsberg (and read at our launch!); been a ONS Featured Poet, and won the inaugural 2013 One Night Stanzas Poetry Contest. (I promise it was anonymously judged… just in case this all feels a bit too much like favouritism!)

So who is this dude?

He lives in Manchester, where he works as a teacher. He recently finished his MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University, which is, I think, the department where Martin Amis teaches, meaning Michael here is pretty brave. He lists Kurt Vonnegut, Selima Hill, Elizabeth Bishop and John Berryman among his writing influences.


And what’s so great about “Aquarium”?

Well, as I say in the wee blurb that appears on the back of the book (look Mum, I’m famous!), Michael’s poems can be incredibly dark — but they’re also, at times, extremely funny. Usually both at the same time, which shouldn’t really be possible and clearly takes a heck of a lot of skill. One of my favourite poems, “Cartoonist,” tells the story of a political cartoonist, living in the midst of some unnamed conflict, listening to her door being beaten down. “Last time, they broke almost all of her fingers,” the poem tells us, whilst also letting us know that the cartoonist’s most famous work is called “The Emperor Of The Soiled Underpants. / The Insurgency had them printed on t-shirts.”

There’s also poignancy in these frightening-but-funny vignettes: in the pamphlet’s title poem, I found myself actually feeling sad about the fate of a goldfish. The poem is about a man whose stomach somehow turns into an aquarium, complete with “a tiny sandcastle.” One of the resident fish, Sylvia, disappears through a crack that opens up: “He is sent home with a roll of masking tape.” It’s hilarious, but also genuinely tragic.

OK, you’ve convinced me. Where do I get this book?

Right here! I believe you can also contact Michael directly via his Facebook to request a copy.


So I suppose you’re going to tell me that young Michael here is the Next Big Thing In British Poetry, aren’t you? A Distinctive New Voice? One Of The Most Exciting Voices In Britain’s Latest Crop Of Blah Blah Blah?

I hate those icky soundbites as much as the next person, trust me. These days, I see them on the backs of people’s books and wince — or laugh, depending on how good a mood I’m in. And yes, they get attached to poets whose work doesn’t really deserve it, or to poets whose work is only so “promising” because they went to Cambridge and made friends with all the right people. However! Mr Conley is the real deal. There are no airs about his poetry. It’s not trying to be trendy, it hasn’t been in Poetry Review, but that’s what makes it awesome. It’s genuinely original and properly engaging — it’s poetry that pretty much anybody could enjoy. It’s also deftly edited, thoughtful, and self-aware. And if you ask me, that makes it Rather Freaking Special. There. Take that soundbite and stick it on something.


Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

I wrote some stuff you might like to read.

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

My review of Kerry Hardie

So, I mentioned last week that I wrote a review of Kerry Hardie’s most recent collection, The Oak & The Ash & The Wild Cherry Tree for The Edinburgh Review Issue 136. You can now buy the issue online! BUT, you can also read my review free and gratis — the folks at Gallery Press liked it so much that they put it on their website. Thanks folks!

The UFOlogists podcast

You may also remember me writing a few weeks ago about the launch of sci-fi poetry anthology Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poems From The UK? I was super-chuffed to have three poems in it, and I’m even more super-chuffed that the folks over at Nature picked one of them to go in their “Where Rockets Burn Through” podcast this week. Thanks again!


Aaaand this is a bit of a scary one, but I am proud of myself for writing it and chuffed that it was published at xoJane, which is rapidly becoming one of my all-time favourite sites. I’ve written here before (but then destroyed the link in post-publication-panic) about my teenage struggles with a rather extreme form of thanatophobia. It seemed pertinent to write about it in a rather more serious way, given the recent OBSESSIVE APOCALYPSE HYPE that I’m sure you’ve all noticed. Of course, the world didn’t end yesterday — hooray! But I wanted to draw attention to this anyway. And for the first time ever, I connected to a fellow thanatophobia sufferer (in the comments), so double hooray!

Happy holidays!


You can also visit Read This Press for poetry and typewriter paraphernalia! Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

Guest post: why I don’t give in to submission by Mark Antony Owen

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

pile of magazines

The other day on Twitter I was chatting with Mark about a poem he’s written recently, and he happened to mention that it’s his policy never to send his poems out for publication in magazines. As this is a bit of a break from the usual poetrythink, I was intrigued to find out why… and thought you might be, too. So I invited Mark to write a guest post! Enjoy…


The thinking goes like this: if you write, you write to be read. And as a poet, I certainly want to be read. So why don’t I submit my work to respected journals and sites? Or rather, having had five poems accepted for publication and only one rejection, why did I stop submitting? My thinking goes like this …

Poetry journals, in print or online, can be a great way for readers to discover new writing, new poets. At their best, they’re a platform for excellence – a filtration system that keeps the ‘bad’ writing from the ‘good’.

But journals can also skew one’s view of a poet or their work – as I discovered by accident.

Having read some print and online journals, I found several poets whose work I admired and whose collections I went on to buy. What was shown of their work was, I found, representative of their style and subject matter. Bottom line? One happy reader/customer. But there were also poets whose output I initially rejected as a result of seeing their work, in isolation, in journals. Poets whose collections I later dipped into in bookshops, only to find I actually quite liked other of their poems.

Frankly, I felt a little bit misled.

Now of course, it would be terribly unfair to journal editors to castigate them for having their own literary preferences and choosing to publish only those works which they deem to have merit. And anyone who reads a particular journal for long enough will surely get to know an editor’s tastes and can then decide whether or not these match their own. But the fact remains that journals can only showcase a poet’s work as a ‘slice’ – at first, anyway. And that slice may not cut it for everyone.

So we come to my reason for not submitting. Is it fear of rejection? Is it fear of the agonising wait for a response that might be a rejection? Is it artistic arrogance? It’s none of these. It’s simply that I don’t believe my own poems stand up well individually. By which, I don’t mean each poem isn’t readable or even rewarding in its own way. I mean that I conceive my poems as details in a larger canvas. Yes, you can appreciate them close up. But I prefer them to be seen within the context of a collection. I just think they work better that way; and it’s completely unreasonable of me to expect them to be seen this way if they’re being published in ones and twos across various journals.

Let me be clear – I’m not knocking (or rejecting) journals. I’m simply saying they’re not for me or my work. At least, not now I’ve found my style and have a broad creative vision for my writing. You might think: ‘If you don’t submit, how will you be read?’ Good question – and one to which I don’t have a good answer. All I know is that I’m not about to give in.


Mark Antony Owen is a poet who writes exclusively in syllabic metre. His poetry draws on that world where the English countryside bleeds into ordinary suburban living – a world he refers to as ‘subrural’.

Mark builds around details of subrural life to create economical poems; each obeying one of nine self-developed forms or variations on these – his subjects often painted a little darker than they really are.

From autumn 2013, Mark will self-publish ‘Subruria’: a multi-volume collection he describes as part sketchbook, part journal, part memoir.

You can find out more at Mark’s website or follow him on Twitter.


Want to write a guest post for One Night Stanzas? Email me a short, informal pitch to claire [at] and we’ll talk!

You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Dear Poetry Newbies: Rejection Therapy

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Photo by Didrooglie.

An earlier version of this post appeared at One Night Stanzas in September 2008.

What are the eight words no writer ever wants to hear? “We are not using your work this time” of course! Most of us see that sentence and silently translate it to “you’ve been rejected, therefore you suck,” and for some people, that’s enough to throw their writing off track for days, weeks, months or even years.
However, if you want to be a writer, you need to accept that rejection is as much a part of the writing game as inky fingers and writer’s cramp (or, these days, repetitive strain injury). But if you’re still finding the rejection pill hard to swallow, then read on…

Everyone gets rejected.
The first thing you need to realise is that you are absolutely NOT alone in your rejection misery. I don’t think there’s a single writer alive who hasn’t felt the sting of rejection in one form or another - even the most famous, successful and established writer will be able to tell you the tale of their worst rejection experience (or experiences)! Basically, rejection comes with the poetic territory… so don’t allow that nasty, negative voice in your head to do the whole “what’s wrong with you? Everyone else gets accepted” routine. Don’t believe me? Join a writing group, workshop or forum and just mention the R-word… I guarantee that everyone will have a story to tell.

It’s not personal… or it shouldn’t be.
Why is it that your confidence takes a massive nosedive when you hear your work has been rejected? Probably because you make it personal - and don’t get me wrong, that’s not unusual, but it’s also not a good way of dealing with it. It’s important that you realise it isn’t personal - chances are, the rejection has nothing to do with who you are as an individual. The editor hasn’t turned you down because they have a personal vendetta against you, or because they hate young / old / gay / straight / male / female writers like you, or because they could tell from reading your stuff that you sometimes surreptitiously listen to Cliff Richard. And if they DID turn you down for personal reasons, then they’re just a bad editor - no two ways about it - and you’re better off not being associated with their publication. So there!!

It does NOT mean your writing sucks.
There are heaps of factors that can influence an editor’s decision. First and foremost, they have to find pieces that will physically fit into their publication - it might be that your poem exceeded their maximum length, or the formatting was just too tricky for them to work with. And your work also has to “fit” in a more abstract sense… so just because one magazine perhaps doesn’t think your work belongs on their particular pages, that doesn’t mean every zine in the world will turn you down. Reading submission guidelines is really important, because knowing what kind of place you’re submitting to and making sure you follow their rules to the letter can eliminate these possible-rejection factors. You also need to bear in mind that any successful magazine has a rigorous selection process, because only a small percentage of submissions can be accepted. Sometimes, editors are even forced to reject work that they actually really love.

All editors are different…
…and this is important for two reasons. One: there are some editors out there who will reject you for something as minor as a typo, or an uncredited reference to another writer. Others are more forgiving when it comes to the little details, but draw the line at things like an absent cover-letter when they specifically requested one. And there are some editors who’ll forgive you just about anything as long as your poems are good enough - problem is, you just don’t know what kind of editor is on the other end of your submission!
And two: at the end of the day, the editor you’re sending your work to is just another reader - and you can’t expect every single reader to love you, can you? Admittedly, a bigger, more democratic editorial team makes for a better magazine, and so most publications have a kind of “panel” system by which they decide who to accept. Lone editors often have to base their choices on personal taste, which seems unfair, but it’s the way the cookie crumbles. And just because one person - or even a four-person team - didn’t love your work, that doesn’t mean there won’t he heaps of people out there who do!

Rejection is no fun for anyone.
Believe it or not, most editors hate the whole rejection thing as much as you do. Sure, you meet the odd sadistic weirdo who loves to put eager young poets down (I’ve met with one of these so far), but generally - unless someone’s been really annoying, ie, ignored submission guidelines or been rude - sending the rejection letters is considered one of the least fun parts of the job. I used to HATE sending out the Read This rejections, because I know all too well that awful sinking feeling you get when your personal turn-down reaches your mailbox. So take comfort in the fact that, somewhere, there may well be a magazine editor squirming with guilt as they imagine you reading your rejection letter!

Or… you could just do this*:

*Don’t do this.

Your worst rejection? Care to share?


You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

Get the gist? Saying hello to what you really think about your writing

Monday, April 30th, 2012


I was directed towards Arvon’s callout to writers for their forthcoming book, Gists, by the lovely and talented Kim Moore. Arvon want to hear what and how you think about your own writing process, and they might even deign to publish your responses alongside writers who are, you know, doing it properly. Famous, and that.

I decided to go and fill in their form because of how Kim framed it — she’d been advised to answer the questions instinctively, without thinking too much. The result was that she found out a few things about her writing process that she’d never really thought about before. Book or no book, that had to be a good idea, I reasoned.

I did the same thing as Kim. I read each question once, and not desperately carefully, and then I answered that question and moved on without reading over my answers. Fortunately, they’re not too rambling and they don’t seem too riddled with typos. The results are below. Those of you who’ve read my poems — or indeed, this blog — can tell me if they’re a fair reflection or not! And if you want to fill out the questionnaire yourself, you can do so here.

How does a book or piece of writing begin to take shape in your imagination? Do you feel your writing is a process of inventing or discovering?

It’s definitely a process of discovery. I’m a poet, and often the ‘trigger’ for a poem will just appear, unbidden. I’ll suddenly hear a line in my head, or find a few snappy words stuck in there like an old tune. I put the trigger line or phrase on a piece of paper and then start poking around with it, building on it slowly. I think that’s actually more like it: it’s more like building than anything else.

What things trigger your imaginative process (for example, significant personal experiences, particular people, places, objects, dream imagery, myths, history, etc)?

All sorts of things. But I write best when I get out of my comfort zone — when I travel to somewhere completely new and a bit unknown, for example, or when something jolts me into uncomfortable territory. I write best when I’m unhappy, when I’m angry. I find that being happy means I write less, and when I do write I produce sweet, placid poems that don’t take as many risks.

How do you work - do you plan carefully or explore in the dark, trusting the process?

I’m not a planner. I try to set aside time to write, but often that doesn’t work — the afternoon I’ve kept free for poetry ends up a frustrated few hours of scribbling and then binning. I’m better when I just trust that the poetry will come and let it come as and when it wants to. I write well on long journeys, on planes and trains. I very often get ideas just as I’m going to bed. I’ve learned that I need to make myself write things down as they appear, because they all too easily melt away again.

Do you feel in control of your writing or are you responsive to the requirements of the work as it unfolds?

I have learned to become more in control. I used to be very much of the ‘first thought, best thought’ school, but I’ve since gained a MSc in Creative Writing and I’m now reading for a Creative Writing PhD. I’ve realised that although, as I said above, I have to trust the process and let poetry appear as and when it wants to, I can also shape and curate the results. So I try to find a good middle ground. If an idea seems silly but won’t stop nagging at me, I’ll try anything once. But I’m also happy to chop things out if they look less promising after a draft or two.

Do you write a first draft quickly and then revise it, or build carefully from the start?

I edit as I go along. I’ll draft and redraft and redraft on a line by line basis, so by the end of the first full draft, the poem is already forming clearly. But I’ll also do several re-writes of each piece. I write long-hand in a large notebook and will usually write a poem out three or four times minimum before transferring it to the typewriter. I’ll try it with stanza breaks in different places, without stanza breaks, mess with enjambment. Then into the manual typewriter. I realise this is an old fashioned way of doing things — especially as I’m only 26 and learned to type on a computer — but I love what using a manual typewriter does to my writing. It makes me careful, and it makes me appreciate and respect the page, its shapes and limitations, much more than word processing does.

How do you deal with blocks in the writing process?

I used to get very stressed about creative block, but then some elders and betters pointed out to me that stress begets stress and the best way to deal with blocks is to ride them out. Now, I am very chilled about creative block. If I can’t write poetry for a few weeks, I’ll write something else — I also write non-fiction essays and a blog. I also read as much as I possibly can — other people’s poems, mainly. Reading, and just reading, dissolves a creative block much faster than any amount of forced creative writing exercises ever could.

Do you write in service of any particular values?

Accessibility. I teach Literature 101 to young people from backgrounds where books just do not factor into people’s lives. These are readers who find the very idea of the written word frightening. They don’t understand the concept of storytelling, and poetry in particular looks like voodoo. Yet, when I introduce them to a poet whose goal is openness and understanding — someone like Billy Collins — they suddenly get it. And they want to read it, and they want to write. They find that they really like poetry. Why would any poet want to suggest that poetry ought to be difficult, that poetry ought to deliberately shut out these readers? Yet plenty do, and often they’re the same poets who are simultaneously worrying over dwindling poetry audiences. I just don’t understand.

What have you learned from the practice of your craft?

That reading and writing and sharing poetry has power in it. Poetry is often misunderstood by those who’ve never really dealt with it — people think it’s archaic and serves no purpose. This isn’t true. Poetry is what language was made for. Get struggling students to write poems and their literacy scores will sky-rocket, as will their social skills. Get a poet to write your advertising copy and see what happens (a lot of companies have begun to do this — look how many TV ads are written in verse these days). Poetry is not old-fashioned, doesn’t have to be self-aggrandising or dull. I’ve learned that none of the rumours are true. Poetry is seriously hip, and what’s more, it’s a long way from being dead.

What is the relationship between the writer’s imagination and that of the reader?

When, as a reader, I really connect with a writer’s work, it’s not like a conversation — it’s deeper than that. It’s almost like a hive-mind. A good writer puts me in their character’s skin and lets me see, hear and feel what’s happening. As a teacher of creative writing I utterly hate the command, “show, don’t tell”, and ban it from my classrooms. But that command is heading in the right direction — writers shouldn’t just tell the reader something. The reader should come out of the other end of a great piece of writing feeling changed. Don’t tell them, don’t show them — change them. Maybe that’s it.

Do writers have any moral responsibility in their work, wider than fidelity to their personal vision?

Writers should always be thinking about their readers. Just as publishers and agents needs writers and should therefore respect those writers’ needs, writers need readers and should treat them accordingly. The poets I mentioned earlier who shout about their ‘right’ to write difficult, obscure poetry and still have it reviewed? They’re not thinking about the reader. Personally, I want as many people as possible to be able to access, understand and enjoy my poems. It’s not hard to make sure that you’re not being elitist.


You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

Call for submissions: “Article-8″ mixed media magazine project

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

the plague

Today I had a very exciting and highly informative meeting with one Mr Nic Cameron, a graphic design student at Edinburgh’s Telford College (full disclosure: for my sins, I work here). Nic is a music enthusiast and former scribbler of poems, and for one of his big course projects, he’s decided to do something very ambitious and pretty darned innovative: create his own hybrid poetry/spoken word and music magazine.

In our meet-up, Nic outlined his reasons for choosing this particular path. Although he hasn’t written poetry himself for a while, he is still very aware of the question, “why don’t more people read poems?” Like many youngsters, he’s bugged by how inaccessible the poetry world sometimes seems. He’s also aware that music magazines can and do attract the kind of people who might like poems, if they only had the chance to see and hear some. His project aims to kill all these problematic birds with one stone. Music magazines have the ability to pull in loads of readers — why not add some poetry into the mix? That way you’d introduce poetry to a new, young audience — and vice-versa.

Personally, I think thought this was a great idea — even more so when I heard a few more details. Article-8, as the magazine has been dubbed, will be a long way from your standard print poetry journal. Nic showed me examples of concrete poetry that had got him fired up, and then talked to me about the potential for changing the way poems interact with the page. In short, he wants to put his graphic design skills to use when editing the magazine together: he’s looking for poets who’d be cool to have their words snaked across the page or ribboned through videos in weird and wonderful shapes… shapes determined by a graphic artist’s eye.

Nic is also looking for poets who’d be willing to supply audio recordings of themselves reading their poems. As well as a print magazine, Article-8 will also become a website and a smartphone app. Performance and sound are two things that link poetry and music, and it seems they’ll be integral to this publication. Nic can help you record good quality audio if you’d be willing to meet with him — or if you’ve already got your own clean recording, you can send it to him with your written work.

In short, Article-8 is looking for brave, open-minded poets who are willing to put their words into the hands of a smart, ambitious graphic artist and see what the results might be. This is a great chance to collaborate and learn about how the shape of your poem changes how it’s read and seen. It’s also a chance to get involved in a conversation about how we make poetry more relevant and interesting to young people — a conversation that really needs to be had. If you fancy offering up some of your work (and, if you’re willing to meet for a recording session, a wee bit of your time) for this excellent cause, then read the blurb below, and submit some stuff to nicholas[dot]cameron[at]

I’m Nic Cameron – a graphic design student from Edinburgh’s Telford College and I have this mad idea… as a working title I’m calling it ‘Article-8 Magazine’ and here’s the gist:

What would the birth-child of a spoken word/poetry journal and a music magazine look like? Could clever typography and design let words speak in the absence of a voice – would bold features, useful articles and engaging content allow the format to reach out to a new, younger and broader audience?

These are questions I’m trying to answer in my final project but I need writers on board to help generate content and volunteer their work for this venture. If you’d like to see a visual interpretation of your writing - now’s the chance. For the project I’d be looking to produce 8 double page spreads, 2 front covers, 2 kinetic type videos, a website and a smart phone app and I need relevant writing/performance for all of these. I’d ask that those who want to donate audio for the videos could arrange with me to be recorded on a good microphone - I’ll take care of the technical side, you just need to read into the machine!

Unfortunately - because this is to a limited timescale there is a chance that not all the work submitted will be used - that said, if this prototype receives positive reviews it may become a much larger beast in the future. I had completely underestimated the excitement this would generate.

This would be non-profit and unreleased. However, if I use your work, you will be able to use the visuals wherever you see fit.

Interested in this idea? Please email a short bio (150 words or so) and two samples of work to nicholas[dot]cameron[at]”

I’m sure Nic would be more than willing to answer any questions you might have about the process, too! Happy submitting, and GOOD LUCK to Nic for what I’m sure will be a great project!


You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

13 ways of looking at a blogpost: a found poem

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012


I’ll be honest: One Night Stanzas has a spam problem. You may remember that I took a break from posting for a few months a while back. Well, yeah… I also took a break from everything blog related. Including comment moderation.

Right now, I have — wait for it — 1,205,353 comments in my moderation queue (honestly). As it’s such a big backlog I’m only managing to moderate something like the latest 100 posts (this is ONS’s 670th post, in case you were wondering). That means that anyone commenting on recent stuff should have their comment approved pretty sharpish. So the vast majority of that one million+ is definitely spam.

I am slowly, slowly, slowly making inroads into that moderation queue. Trawling through and clicking ‘mark as spam’ again and again and again for hours aint much fun, but I’m determined to get there eventually. What’s more, as I’ve been going through these spam comments I’ve had quite a lot of fun reading some of them — they’re often absurd, they can be funny, and occasionally they’re even poetic.

I had one post — a Procrastination Station from a while back — that must have had some very popular link in it — that had gathered thousands and thousands of spam comments. I decided to use this post’s comments to create a found poem out of spam. The result is below. Each stanza comes from a different comment, but they’re all 100% real and unedited (except I’ve put line breaks in some of them). They’re also definitely all from spambots. Amazing stuff. Enjoy…

13 ways of looking at a blogpost: a found poem by Claire Askew


I am not paying fourteen dollars to find out how this magic trick was performed.
I don’t have fourteen dollars to my name.

I watch the news daily, sometimes all day if I can.
We’re getting invaded.
You won’t know about it until your family is shot and killed before your eyes.


Not only do we hide the imperfections on our faces,
we hide the flaws all over our bodies.
Women are looking to surgeons to help them.
Women in Phoenix have started a trend.
Women round the acreage of the globe
are getting the bosoms they have frequently required.


I assumed my entire life was over.
I am not sure what I would have done.
I can at this point relish my future.

I poured spot remover on my dog.
Now he’s gone.


I do wonder if it’s all wine and roses in Colorado Springs.

Perhaps the biggest favour we could do for the African poor
would be to kill off all that dangerous wildlife.


We could write a thousand-word essay
on the demise of the large, three-row,
body-on-frame sport utility vehicle,
but that hardly seems helpful.


Black magic spells have an amazing power.
There will be neither negative energies nor bad karma involved.
Experience their amazing and effective power.

Just like dozens of happy clients before you.


I harmonise with your conclusions,
and will power-thirstily look to your coming updates.

By the way, I’m your personal stalker.
Will you please stop wearing those ugly shoes?


Are you addicted to drugs or alcohol?

You know those rooster hair extensions? Thousands of birds.

Why do you have this donkey?
What is he for?

Are you feeling uncomfortable about attending another wedding service
since you could be over?

Have you ever had difficulties with spammers?


There’s some heart behind each one of their performances,
and in the emotional scenes in the film,
that comes through.


It is onerous to seek educated folks.

A fascinating dialogue is worth comment.

Don’t throw the chickens with the bathwater.

Make hay while the solar shines.


The fellow who thinks he is conscious of it all
is especially annoying to those of us who are.

One’s wales truly are a compilation of planks.


scandals notetakers friendships secretariat Alzheimers input output bulk included governors

You are my breathing in.


Use this machine as well as possible,
because this is a sophisticated machine.


One Night Stanzas loves mail. Say hello via NB: I am physically unable to reply to non-urgent stuff unless I have a free afternoon and a cup of tea in my hand. Please be patient!

(Photo credit)