Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

ONS recipe corner: super easy cashew cream

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Make your own cashew cream!

I’ve posted a few recipes for vegan desserts here now, and hopefully you’ve tried your hand at making some of them! Since becoming vegan just over a year ago, I’ve been thrilled (REALLY) to discover just how many dessert options are still open to me and my chronic sweet tooth! However, we vegans do sometimes lose out when it comes to tasty dessert accompaniments. I miss very few foodstuffs, but one of the things I do miss is, weirdly, custard. For a good while I was desperately seeking a tasty, cruelty-free custard substitute… and then I discovered cashew cream.

The revelation happened at the wonderful Zeffirelli’s, where I ordered a vegan summer pudding (OMG) and it came with lashings of what I can only describe as “freakin’ delicious cashew goo” on the side. I have since learned that cashew cream is basically the best thing ever to go with any kind of fruity dessert — especially a good old fashioned apple pie.

So if you have vegan guests coming over and you want to make sure they don’t just have to look sad while everyone else tops their tasty dessert with ice cream or custard, TRY THIS. It is so, so easy.

Ingredients

200g of cashews (pro tip: buy cashew pieces from your local healthfood store. Cheapness!)
A 200g block of creamed coconut
400ml water
1/2 cup of agave nectar
Vanilla extract

Make your own cashew cream!
First, roughly chop your cashews. They don’t have to be evenly sized, or cut too small. Basically just make sure there are no whole cashews left.

Make your own cashew cream!
Soak ‘em in cold water for a little while. I did mine for about two hours and that was plenty. Once they’re good n’ soaked, put them into the blender or food processor, along with the creamed coconut, which you should break into small chunks. Pour in the 400ml of warm water, and whizz for a good while.

Make your own cashew cream!

You’ll end up with a mix that looks a bit like this. ^ (Warning: you will not get it to go totally smooth, ’cause yaknow, nuts. It’ll still be a little gritty. To reduce the grittiness, soak your cashews for longer.) At this stage, you can stir in your agave nectar and add vanilla extract to taste. That is LITERALLY IT.

NB: your ‘cream’ may seem a bit watery. If you want to eat it right away (as I did, obv), you can seive off some of the liquid (useful for vegan milkshake?). However, know this: the cream will firm up quite a bit in the fridge, so maybe prepare it a little ahead of time so it has a while to chill out.

Best served with pie, if you ask me! Enjoy!

Make your own cashew cream!

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]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

I’m giving away a bunch of books and I want YOU to have them

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

UPDATE: guys, these books here in the photo? These aren’t the books I’m giving away — this is just a pic off Flickr! Scroll down for the full list in the blog text!

Things I'm Reading Thursday...

So guys, I’m likely moving house soon (VERY EXCITING), and between us, Lovely Boyfriend and I own at least a metric ton of books (really. I think this might be quite an accurate figure). Once I own a book, I am generally extremely loath to part with it again (hence the metric ton thing), but the prospect of carrying all the books we currently own down five flights of stairs and all the way across town has forced me to seriously consider the creaking, slightly-bowed problems that are my various bookshelves.

The list below is only a tiny fraction of my book collection, but it’s also only phase one: when my PhD thesis is finally finished, I’ll likely have a load more academic tomes and textbooks to offload. However, what little there is here I am throwing open to you lot before just sending it all to the charity shop. Would you like a free book? A bunch of free books? If you can come and collect them from Tollcross, they’re yours. Have a browse:

Poetry

GONE, SORRY!The Invisible Mender by Sarah McGuire (Cape)
GONE, SORRY!Looking Through Letterboxes by Caroline Bird (Carcanet)
Trouble Came To The Turnip by Caroline Bird (Carcanet)
Orphaned Latitudes by Gerard Rudolf (Red Squirrel Press)
GONE, SORRY!Cascade Experiment by Alice Fulton (Norton)
GONE, SORRY!Sensual Math by Alice Fulton (Norton)
On Purpose by Nick Laird (Faber)
Not In These Shoes by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch (Picador)
The Janus Hour by Anne Stewart (Oversteps Books)
GONE, SORRY!Lyric/Anti-Lyric: Essays on Contemporary Poetry by Douglas Barbour
The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America by David Whyte

Fiction

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (Oxford World’s Classics)
Wieland: Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist by Charles Brockden Brown (Oxford World’s Classics)
GONE, SORRY!Wetlands by Charlotte Roche (hardback)
GONE, SORRY!Ten Women Who Shook The World by Sylvia Brownrigg
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

Essays

GONE, SORRY!Wallflower at the Orgy by Nora Ephron
GONE, SORRY!Complete Prose by Woody Allen
GONE, SORRY!Mothers by Daughters edited by Joanna Goldsworthy (Virago)
The Bastard on the Couch edited by Daniel Jones

Women’s Studies/Feminism and Literary Criticism

Dropped Threads: What We Aren’t Told edited by Carol Shields and Marjory Anderson (2001)
GONE, SORRY!Flux: women on sex, work, love, kids and life in a half-changed world edited by Peggy Orenstein (2000)
Men Writing The Feminine: Literature, Theory and the Question of Genders edited by Thais E Morgan (1994)
GONE, SORRY!Is The Future Female?: Troubled Thoughts on Contemporary Feminism Lynne Segal (1987)
GONE, SORRY!The Female Gaze: Women as Viewers of Popular Culture edited by Lorraine Gamman and Margaret Marshment (1988)*
The Fragile Male by Ben Greenstein**
Critical Approaches to Literature by David Daiches (hardback) (1956)

Other

The Best of Cosmopolitan: The 70s and 80s (I know, wtf? I can’t remember when I bought it or why the hell.)
A Handbook of Games and Simulation Exercises edited by GI Gibbs (inexplicably, given to me by my parents, who’ve had it in their book collection — which makes mine look PUNY — since 1974, when it was published. Fascinating if you’re interested in the education system of 1960 & 70s Britain, I’m sure.)

I also have a bunch of 12″ spoken word LPs if you’re interested — mostly ‘great poets’ (Hardy, Pound, Robert Graves) and a few random kitsch things I bought on whims in thrift shops (an LP of the juicier scenes from Dracula, for example, and an LP of a totally trippy reading of Alice in Wonderland). Totally let me know if you’re into weird-literature-on-vinyl!

*Just to show what a small world Edinburgh is: I just noticed that this book has “Hannah McGill, Christmas 1994″ biro-d into the front flyleaf. It became mine via an Edinburgh charity shop.
**OK, this is a book by a Men’s Rights Activist, which I bought because I, stupidly, wanted to hate-read it. Thankfully, I never got round to it, but it looks HEINOUS.

Finally, NB: I haven’t actually read some of these books, so if you ask for a review first, I only might be able to provide one.

Drop a comment in the comments box or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com to let me know if you’d like any of these!

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]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Where is Claire? Come & hear me read!

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

After the Show

I’m going to be reading some poems in some places — exciting places — over the next three weeks or so. Come and hear me read! I’d love to see your lovely face in the crowd. There will be other amazing poets at these events, too, folk whose wonderful works are an even better reason to come along!

Bletherskites: Scottish Performance Poetry Spectacular

Sunday 7th April 2013, The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, 3pm (doors 2.30pm) to 5.30pm
£5 admission

Bletherskites is being run by the lovely folks at Inky Fingers. They describe it as: “a showcase of some of the very best of Scottish performance poetry… a big bash for everything that comes out of these brilliant mouths.”

How flattering, then, that I am one of the line-up! But don’t come to hear me — come to hear some of the truly fabulous folks I’ll be reading alongside. Everyone on the bill is great, but I have a particular fondness for The Great McGuire, and the lovely Ms Camilla Chen. Have a look at the Facebook event for more information, and to say you’re coming along!

Rockets for Edwin Morgan

Thursday 25th April 2013, The Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh, 6.30pm
£7/£5 admission

Hey, remember back in November when I got all excited about the launch of this brilliant book? Well, I’m really happy to say that its lovely editor, Russell Jones, has organised a second event to celebrate its existence.

“Russell Jones, editor of Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poems from the UK, and his merry band of sci-fi poets read their work from this genre-busting anthology. This event will also include a short movie by Dan Warren based on Edwin Morgan’s sci-fi poem, ‘In Sobieski’s Shield’”, say the SPL. Sounds good, right?

I’m particularly chuffed to be performing my poems from this anthology (plus a Morgan poem I’ve picked), because I get to do so alongside such wonderful poets as Ron Butlin and Pippa Goldschmidt. It’s going to be out of this world! (…sorry.)

Announce your intention to come along right here at the Facebook event.


The last ever TenRed

Wednesday 1st May, The Persevere Function Room, Edinburgh, 7.30pm
£3 admission

It’s time to play the sad trombones, folks, because TenRed, one of Edinburgh’s best spoken word nights of recent times, is closing its doors. It’s for a happy reason — the wonderful MC, Kevin Cadwallender, is leaving for exciting pastures new. However, he and TenRed will be sadly missed.

I’ve been gutted that I haven’t been able to attend more of these great nights — on Wednesday evenings I’ve taught until 9pm for the past two academic years. Timing, thou art a cruel mistress! However, the TenReds I’ve made it to have been really fantastic. I’ve discovered new poets I’d never have come across otherwise — like the magical Swedish slam-mistress, LouIce — and got the chance to hear the voices of folks who aren’t often coaxed into the open to read their work, like the gorgeous Mira Knoche.

I’ll still be teaching on this particular Wednesday, but there’s also no way I was going to miss out on giving TenRed a fabulous send-off! So, Kevin’s putting me on in the second half and I’ll be running like a mad thing straight from my class in order to catch as much of the rest of the gig as I possibly can. Want to know who else is performing? Why, there’s even a trailer! Check it out!

Want me to perform at YOUR event? Drop me a line at claire[at]onenightstanzas.com and tell me all about it!

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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]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Some thoughts on gift-giving and One Night Stanzas

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

eco gift wrap DIY - as seen on Design Sponge!

Over at Shakesville, one of my all-time favourite blogs, blogmistress Melissa has this to say about being a blogger and asking for gifts/money:

“Asking for money is incredibly hard for me. I hate doing it. I hate doing it so much, in fact, that there are times I’d actually rather be shit-broke. Part of it is just an innate aversion to asking for anything; part of it is that those threads always end up being extremely upsetting, for reasons that I imagine are evident to anyone who’s read any of them.

[...] Women’s service work, whether it’s mothering, elder care, volunteering, philanthropy, social work, employment in any “pink collar” profession, or social advocacy, is gravely devalued, frequently to the point where it is unpaid work altogether.

And when I don’t ask that my work be valued by the community, I’m feeding that narrative; I’m implicitly saying, “It’s okay to expect this from me. It’s okay to feel entitled to the product of a woman’s work for nothing in return.”—and that makes me feel even worse than asking for money does.”

In the four plus years I’ve run it, I’ve never really asked for money for One Night Stanzas. Sure, in the early days I posted the odd only-half-joking “wishlist”, and until someone tried to steal the image for my painstakingly-designed ‘donate’ button, ONS also had a tip-jar on the sidebar. But I’ve never actively asked for gifts or done anything to make you guys feel like you have to pay to read. It’s worth noting that I’ve also never attempted to make cash off the blog in other ways — I have done a grand total of one kind-of-sort-of-sponsored post in my entire four plus years as a blogger, and I’ve never, ever run ads here. I blog because I like it. Because I’m gobby and have lots of thoughts about stuff. Because the internet scares me and I want a corner of it that’s really safe for me to be — a space that’s just mine.

That said, Melissa did get me thinking. I’ve been hard at work in this space for over four years and it’s not just an echo chamber — although I’ve been moving more and more towards a ‘comments off’ policy here over the past little while (it’s just so much WORK, you guys), I know people do follow, read, enjoy what’s here. Therefore, why not ask for a little recognition? It’s just asking, right? It feels decidedly un-British, but hey, I’m going to do it anyway. So if you’ve read and liked/laughed at/been inspired by/shared the stuff I’ve been putting here over the past year or so*, then why not read on? I’ve included a few very small, very cheap ways that you can give a little something back to One Night Stanzas this festive season.

Buy my book.
You might already have it, but you can always give it as a gift to someone you know who likes one of the following things: poetry, old ladies, typewriters, books, Star Trek. For it has all those things and more inside its pages. There are only three copies left so this is the last chance you’ll ever get to buy one (except maybe in charity shops in years to come). They’re only four quid plus P&P. Read kind things smart people have said about the book — and then rush to buy a copy — right here.

Buy one of the books I have edited.
Sadly, the wonderful — even if I do say so myself — Skin Deep: Poems on Tattoos and Tattooing is now sold out. But! You can still buy one of the two Read This Press titles still available. The first of the two is Chris Lindores’ brilliant debut pamphlet You Old Soak. These are poems about drinking, awkward social interaction, walking around Edinburgh at night, and drinking some more. This book had a limited printing of 150 copies and each copy is uniquely hand-embellished with real red wine stains! Again, only four quid, and available here. The second of the two is the anthology Starry Rhymes: 85 Years of Allen Ginsberg, which contains poems from such superstars (seriously) as Ryan Van Winkle, Tracey S Rosenberg and Colin McGuire. It received a glowing review from the lovely Chris Emslie at Sabotage, which you should totally read. Again, your copy will be one of a tiny limited print run of 140 — every copy was painstakingly handmade! It’s only a fiver and it’s perfect for the Beat Generation enthusiast in your life. You can grab a copy right here.

Make a donation to Scottish Women’s Aid, or help someone living in a refuge
Earlier this year I completed training to become a Scottish Women’s Aid Community Champion, and the work I’ve done with SWA since has been one of the best things about my year. They’re an extremely deserving organisation whose staff, paid and voluntary, all work their socks off to make the lives of women in Scotland and beyond better, brighter and happier. The more donations they get, the more cool projects they can run — check out the recent I GET IT campaign, designed to get young people talking about what makes a healthy relationship — and the more difference they can make. You can buy me the Christmas present of a donation by clicking right here.
If you prefer, you can buy a real present for a woman or child who has been the victim of domestic violence or who is houseless at Christmas for some other reason. John Lewis has a gift list (number 522953) that allows you to buy a gift and send it straight to a woman or child currently living in a refuge. (NB: when picking gifts, bear in mind that most folk are likely to get things for babies. Bear the mums and older kids in mind, too!)

Buy something from Edinburgh Vintage.
Edinburgh Vintage is one of the many various things I do to keep the wolf from the door, as my gran would say, each month. I run it out of my spare room and most of the time, love it (occasionally — like recently, when an Etsy scam buyer swizzled me out of a gold watch AND the money it cost — not so much). It would be a big and much-appreciated deal to me if some of you fine people were to help support this little venture. There are some really nice bits and piece on there at the moment that, in my humble opinion, would make great Christmas gifts — and buying secondhand means unique presents that’re great for the environment! My picks might be this blue enamel coffeepot, which I am totally keeping if no one buys it by Christmas; this totally unused Estee Lauder cosmetics/beauty bag; a sleepy white kitty or a grey Beswick one for the cat-lovers in your life; this novelty wintery jumper, and maybe this amazing antique harmonica (I’m not a musician but this is one covetable little item!). Whether you decide to buy or not, I’d still super-appreciate it if you’d just have a browse (NB: I have a sale section AND a final clearance section)!

Buy me a present present.
If you’re feeling extra-super-generous, you can buy me an actual gift. I never expect anyone to actually do this, but it has happened very occasionally in the past and I’ve always been bowled over by the loveliness and generosity of my readers! So if this is an option you want to go for, you can check out my Etsy favourites (the first page is a lot of bling jewellery I’m keeping an eye on for my some-day lottery win… skip past that for the cheap second hand books and geek paraphenalia!) or my Amazon wishlist. I also get Christmas cards yearly from some ONS readers which is super super super lovely. If you’d like to Christmas card me, drop me a line to claire[at]onenightstanzas.com and I’ll let you know where to address your envelope to (by the way, die-hard readers… I no longer have the ONS PO Box I had for the first couple of years, so if you’ve saved that address, get in touch for a new one)!

If you do any of these things this Christmas, I will seriously love you forever. I will also double-triple promise to continue writing at One Night Stanzas, so this is srs stuff! There’re only twenty days to go now til the big day, so I think it’s no longer too premature to say this: Merry Christmas, ONS readers one and all!

*(If you haven’t, you can just look at these cute photos of a polar bear.)

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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]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Stop presses! I am going to read some poems in some places!

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Happy Birthday, Allen Ginsberg!

Hey you guys. I know this basically never happens now (and — sshhh! — I actually kinda like that), but I am going to be reading Some Poems in Some Places over the next few weeks, and I just, you know, thought you might be interested in knowing about it. If so, read on. If not, go and make a cup of tea, or hug someone, or look at this cute panda, or do all or none of those things.

Shore Poets
Sunday 25th November 2012, 7.30pm

Henderson’s at St John’s, Edinburgh
I recently joined the Shore Poets committee, and I must say, I am loving being a part of what must surely be one of Edinburgh’s longest-running poetry nights. This month, my Shore Poet job is to read a set of poems, and I’m super looking forward to it, as this is my first proper poetry gig since before the summer. I’ll be guinea-pig-ifying the audience and offering up some hopefully tasty new poems to see what they make of them. If you fancy being part of this experiment, then come along! Doors open at 7.15, it finishes before ten (so you get to bed early), there’s cake for sale, and indeed a raffle where you could win FREE cake. If you don’t fancy the idea of listening to me waffle on, you’ll be happy to hear there are other, most excellent poets and some music. It’s a damn fine time and it costs a measly £5, or £3 for students.

The Edinburgh launch of Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poetry From The UK
Thursday 29th November 2012, 6.00pm

Blackwells, Edinburgh
My motto always used to be “never knowingly anthologised,” ’cause no one ever seemed to want me for their “young, upcoming, exciting poets!” type anthologies. I kinda liked the motto, actually, but then some people asked me to be in their anthologies and offered me some money, and you know, I’m a starving poet so OBVIOUSLY. And although I lost my motto, I did end up getting five poems placed in this badboy, a collection of stellar (har!) science fiction poetry from across the Universe UK. I will be reading those poems alongside some other very cool people (Jane McKie! Andrew C Ferguson! Pippa Goldschmidt! I’m exclaiming their names ’cause they’re fabby!), at this lovely free-to-attend launch. There’s a Facebook event here to tell ‘em you’re coming. There will PROBABLY be free wine. There will definitely be fun and frolics. I promise!

Book Week Scotland Pop-Up Festival
Saturday 1st December 2012

Mitchell Library (Cafe Bar), Glasgow
I’m really happy to be reading at the Book Week Scotland Pop Up Festival, which promises to be a day-long cavalcade of literary delights. It starts at 10am and goes on til late with all manner of cool and quirky stuff going on. My small role in all of this will involve sipping tea and reading some poems in the cafe bar with my fellow Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award recipients. This will be happening sometime between 4pm and 5pm. I’m extra psyched because we’ll be joined by the World’s Greatest Compere (really) Ryan Van Winkle, without whom no poetry show is quite complete. Seriously, it’s worth the train fare to Glasgow for a glimpse of his beard alone. Here’s the Facebook event. Please do come along and sip tea with me!

Want me to come and read at your event? I MIGHT JUST SAY YES! Catch me in the comments box or use the email address below!

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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]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Dear Poetry Newbies: a checklist for submitting work to magazines

Monday, May 21st, 2012

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

Last week I wrote a post designed to help you start submitting your poetry to magazines. Avoid missing out a vital step in the process by reading over this checklist - print it out and stick it on the wall if necessary; that way, you’ll stay in the good books of every editor you submit to!

1: Choose your publication.
Read any info you can find about your chosen magazine, journal or anthology carefully. Consider: does your work belong there? Would you be happy for your name to appear in the publication?

2: Choose your poems.
Make sure you’re not sending too many (most places specify a limit which could be anything from 3 to 15) - and if you don’t know how many is too many, limit yourself to 4 or 5. Also to bear in mind - have your poems been sent off to or published in another place? If so, is the publication you now want to submit to OK with this? If you’re not sure, ask.

3: Read the submission guidelines…
…and read them carefully! Make sure your poems are presented and sent to the publication according to their rules. You should ALWAYS read the submission guidelines - and not only because editors love you for it - the guidelines often give you a wealth of information about the place you’re sending your stuff to as well.

4: Write your cover letter.
Your cover letter should always include your full name (or pen name), and a return email or mailing address… at the very least! It’s also a good idea to drop the name of the publication you’re submitting to. This sounds weird, but it’s not unheard of for editors to use submission email addresses for multiple projects. Also, naming the publication shows eds that you’re not just cold-calling every literary magazine you can find.

5: Check for typos and spelling errors.
Better still, get someone else to cast an eye over your submission. I’m really bad at spotting typos - after a while you can just stop seeing them. Make sure you check your cover letter, too!

6: Send your submission with care.
Make sure the editor will be able to contact you if they need to (this is particularly important for those of you submitting by post). Remember, it is YOUR responsibility to provide a SAE if you want your poems back - it is NOT the job of the magazine staff to buy sufficient postage for you (even if you do send them the money - go and get the stamps yourself, lazy)! With email submissions, make sure your return address is fully functioning, and be sure to add the publication’s email to your safe list or address book to prevent any replies from disappearing into your Spam folder.

7: Be patient.
After you’ve sent your work, there’s little you can do - just cross your fingers and wait. Bear in mind, you may need to wait up to 3 or 4 months. While some people like to send nagging emails to try and find out what’s going on with their work, I’d strongly advise against this. Generally, if you haven’t heard anything after 3 months, you can send your work elsewhere - and if a magazine wants to publish you after that point, just be sure to let them know if you’ve since sent elsewhere any of the pieces they want.

8: Deal with the fallout.
Rejected? Feel miserable for a bit, have a cup of tea, then chalk it up to experience, and try again. DO NOT EVER EVER email the editor back in response to a rejection. EVER.

9: Alternate your poems.
So, you’ve painstakingly sent a bunch of poems to a magazine, having chosen carefully, and read all the guidelines… hopefully you’ll get a positive response! Now you just need to give those poems a rest for a while - if you’re submitting to other magazines, try to avoid submitting the same poems simultaneously until you know the outcome.

10: Take the critique on board.
Very few editors take the time to write even a couple of lines about your work when they send their response. However, on occasion you will get a bit of feedback, usually in the form of suggestions for possible improvement if your work is rejected. If an editor suggests that perhaps your linebreaks aren’t so hot, for example, don’t be angry or offended - chances are they’re only commenting because they can see you have potential. Put their advice into practice and it could mean the difference between rejection and success next time!

Good luck!

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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]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Dear Poetry Newbies: how to start publishing in magazines.

Monday, May 14th, 2012

foam mag

An earlier version of this post appeared at One Night Stanzas in August 2008. Please note, Read This Magazine is no longer an active publication.

About six months ago, I organised a small-scale poetry event to raise funds and awareness for Read This, and was delighted when a famous poet showed up to lend his support. Unfortunately, one of the young poets who’d come along to read ended up a couple of red wines past her bedtime, and accosted said famous poet while he was outside having a sneaky cigarette. She went in for the kill with something along the lines of “tell me how I can be a poet like you!” and – clearly rather startled, the famous poet could only respond with: “well… send your work to magazines. That’s about it.”
In throwing caution to the wind, the emerging poet voiced an anxiety that plagues many young writers. You want to produce poetry, and get that poetry ‘out there’ to be read – but how the heck do you do it? Where do you start?
Technically, the famous poet is right: the best way to begin, the best way to eventually become ‘established,’ is to get your poems printed in magazines. Magazine publishing – coupled with other poem-honing activities like poetry readings, retreats and workshops – can really help you climb the ladder… but I’m sure even the famous poet would admit that getting into magazines is often far from easy!

Be ready.
The very first thing you need to do is address whether you’re actually ready to send your work to magazines or not. It’s a big step up, to go from just writing for yourself to sending your stuff out into the world for editors – and potentially a whole load of readers – to see. It’s essential that you feel confident your work is good enough, so that when you eventually get that inevitable first rejection letter, you’ll be ready for it – and, most importantly, you’ll be able to grit your teeth and carry on with the process! Unfortunately, no one else can really tell you whether or not you and your work are ready to face the general public – it’s something you have to gauge totally on your own. “Being ready” has nothing to do with age, gender, nationality or anything else – at Read This, we’ve received and published fantastic work from 13-year-olds, but had writing from 33-year-olds who were just not quite ready for magazines yet – and vice-versa! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it because you’re too young, too old, not good enough, etc. And at the same time, don’t let anyone else push you into it before you’re ready. Mainly, it’s about feeling comfortable and confident in your work and yourself, and being prepared for what is sometimes a long and hard road to publication.

Learn about the process.
Knowing what happens to your poems after you release them into the world can really help you to decide whether or not you’re ready for the world of magazines or not. Of course, every magazine is different, but generally the selection process for poems is roughly the same. When your poems land in the magazine’s mailbox, chances are they’ll be surrounded by many, many others. (Even Read This, which has a print-run of only 150 per month, receives submissions by the hundred.) When your poem is read, it will be held up to the magazine’s personal benchmarks - see ‘Do Your Research’! - as well as being considered alongside the many other hopefuls. In some cases, poems will be rejected outright because of factors like length or subject matter, but most of the time, the editors really will sift through all the poems, reading each and every one before deciding what will make it into the issue. As you can imagine, this can take absolutely ages, so expect a delay of anything up to three or four months before they get back to you. (Some magazines don’t respond to the people whose work they’re not using, but you should still wait at least eight weeks before sending the same poems somewhere else.) Also, most magazines can only publish a very small percentage of the poetry they receive (as little as 2% in the case of some larger publications), so if you do receive a rejection letter, you have to be aware that space is a massive deciding factor.

Learn to love rejection (if you can!)
Because of the huge numbers of submissions that most magazines receive, you do have to accept that rejection may well become your new best friend as you delve into the submission process – that’s something that even established poets have to learn to live with! Don’t get me wrong, that “we will not be using your work this time” line really stings, no matter how many times you hear it – and no matter how many times you’ve been accepted in the past, it’s guaranteed to knock the wind out of your sails just a little. However, it’s important to find a way of dealing with it, so you can move on, get back to the grind, keep writing, and hopefully get published! (Need some Rejection Therapy?)

Do your research.
OK, so you’re sure you’re ready to send your work to magazines, you know all about the process and you’re totally ready for rejection to come along and bite you on the ass. Can you start addressing envelopes yet?
Well… not quite. First of all you need to do some research, which might sound boring, but it’ll pay off. Obviously, you need to choose which magazines you want to send your work to – some will be better for you than others (check out my list of featured creative writing magazines). Once you’ve chosen (and here’s the important bit!) read the submission guidelines for every publication very carefully, and - unless you have a really damn good reason not to - follow them to the letter! Nothing gets an editor’s goat more than someone who wants their poems to take up valuable space in a magazine, but who can’t even be bothered to read or follow that magazine’s system for submitting. Each magazine has its own guidelines and they vary greatly – some ban adult content, some refuse science fiction, some only take work in translation, some reject single-spaced poems. Although Read This just says “send us ANYTHING!”, most magazines are very specific about their requirements, and for this reason, you need to check the guidelines every time you submit. It’s time-consuming, but it’s a must!

Send your work wisely.
So, once you have the reading-guidelines-obsessively thing down, you can finally start sending your work out to editorial teams far and wide! The final thing you have to remember is just to send your work wisely – for example, while the occasional zine or two are cool with it, most magazines prefer you not to send work that has been published elsewhere, or that might be under consideration by another magazine (this will probably be somewhere in the submission guidelines, but if it isn’t, it’s best to assume they don’t accept simultaneous submissions). Send all your poems in one email or envelope rather than flooding the poor editor’s mailbox, and if you do email, make sure all attachments are in a standard file-type and will open at the other end. If you’re sending your poems by post and want the poems back, include a SAE with enough stamps on it – do NOT send cash or cheques in the post and expect the magazine staff to buy the postage themselves! Always be sure to include your contact details with your submission, and be courteous and lovely in all your correspondence – karma might well reward you!

Other stuff to read from elsewhere:
A quick cautionary note: there are LOADS of sites all over the internet which claim to help you publish your work. Be viligant! A lot of these are scams or money-making exercises. You should always be able to publish your work without paying anyone, so NEVER part with “reading fees” – if a magazine’s submission process is not free, it’s not worth getting involved with. Also, even the free and legitimate poetry-publishing-advice sites often leave a lot to be desired. For example, the first four my search-engine found were these:

About.com are a massive, corporate and non-poetry-specific site, but their guidelines are actually OK – though they don’t really take email submissions into account, so I suspect they’re a bit outdated. Also, I do NOT agree at all with what they say about cover letters – read their views, then check out this to get a balance.

Empty Mirror Books’ advice seems to be one big ad for a writers’ directory book, which makes me suspicious – they reckon it’s essential, but only part with your cash it if you think you’ll really use it. A lot of the info the book provides is probably available online for free.

There’s nothing wrong with SoYouWanna’s suggestions per se, but again, they’re a massive corporate site and they don’t specialise in poetry or publishing at all. The tone of the article is rather aggressive and they resort to mass generalisations like advising all poets to edit their work down to “the fewest words possible.” Altogether now… ARGH!

The best of the lot is probably Tim Love’s guide to publishing in the UK – its biggest flaw is obviously that it’s UK specific. Also, the advice is coming from a long-standing, plain-speaking poet who has weathered a fair few rejections – just don’t let the cynical tone put you off, young ‘uns!

Basically, if you want advice, click around. Read up. Don’t part with any cash unless you’re totally sure. Don’t be intimidated or put off. Take everything with a hefty pinch of salt. Follow your instincts. Go for it.

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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]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

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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]live.co.uk.

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]live.co.uk”

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!

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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]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

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Featured Magazines #16: Words Dance

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Retro Vintage Colorful Purple Shoes on Green Grass

Words Dance
Editor: Amanda Oaks
Established: 2003
Based in: USA
Website: http://www.wordsdance.com
Submit via: wdsubmissions(at)gmail(dot)com

I first heard about Words Dance via the sadly-no-longer-functional Verve Bath Press, which published Heather Bell (one of my all-time favourite poets) with her first pamphlet collection, “Nothing Unrequited Here“. Back then the magazine was a beautiful, handmade quarterly print zine that I yearned to place work in, but by the time I discovered it, submissions were closed. Amanda is a super-busy lady — now a mama of two gorgeous boys, she also runs Kind Over Matter, a site full of free, happy-making craft ideas, writing prompts and general positivity. Recently, she decided that she wanted to re-open submissions for Words Dance, but that she could no longer devote the time and energy to hand-making an entire run of zines every quarter.

Therefore, in keeping with the ethos of Kind Over Matter, Words Dance has now become a totally free, all-access e-zine, widening its reach and spreading its good work across the globe. The magazine has recently featured work by poets I’m already a fan of — Audrey Dimola, Rebecca Schumejda — as well as introducing me to some great new voices. Amanda was also kind enough to take one of my own pieces a few days ago, with another to go up soon.

Words Dance is a seriously friendly, welcoming, laid-back e-zine. Amanda doesn’t care where else you’ve been published or what credits you have to your name. She edits 100% from the heart — if she likes your work and she thinks it fits with the publication, she’ll take it, and that’s it. That’s very refreshing, and makes Words Dance an eclectic and surprising online journal. Submit, and you’ll get an auto-response immediately, which also acts as a potential form-rejection. This may seem lazy, but Amanda’s time is precious — and she goes to the trouble of telling you exactly what will happen with your submission, and what to expect: “If you don’t hear from me within 3 weeks, it’s safe to say that your submission was not accepted. That doesn’t mean that your work was not good enough, & it certainly is nothing personal, it just means that I felt, in my heart, that it wasn’t the right fit at this time. Don’t be discouraged to submit at a later date.” Can you really argue with that?

The submission guidelines are pretty straightforward, too:

Submissions will be accepted based on the quality of the work.

I welcome a broad range of work, any style or form, formal or informal, experimental & conventional. [...]

Does it move me? Is it well-written?

If the answer is yes to both of those questions then the possibility of your work appearing will be greater.

Amanda’s approach to running an e-zine is just totally sane. Being an editor is hard, time consuming work — submitting poetry to publications can be a nerve-wracking and disappointing endeavour. Somehow, Amanda has managed to remove the hassle from both ends of the equation. What’s left is Words Dance — a simple, clean, brilliant e-zine that deserves as many readers as it can get.

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Know a publication that deserves a feature? Email me! –> One Night Stanzas loves mail. Say hello via claire@onenightstanzas.com. 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!

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Call for submissions: an all-female anthology on “Truth” in honour of Adrienne Rich

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Audre Lorde, Meridel Lesueur, Adrienne Rich 1980
(Adrienne Rich — right — with Meridel Leseur and Audre Lorde in 1980)

On 27th March 2012, modern poetry lost one of its true giants. Adrienne Rich — poet, essayist, feminist, activist, thinker — passed away at the age of 82 following a period of illness. Rich was one of America’s most decorated and celebrated poets, the winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Wallace Stevens Award and a Griffin Poetry Prize Lifetime Recognition Award, among many others. She was also one of the fiercest and bravest voices poetry has ever seen. Described as “a poet of towering rage,” she wrote for women’s rights, for gay rights and for human rights and confronted sometimes vicious challenges from the literary and political establishment. Her poetry is angry, graceful and timeless, and her writings on women artists and female literary tradition vital. I have no doubt that her work will continue to chime with writers — female or otherwise — for as long as it is read.

One of my all-time favourite essays of Rich’s is the pseudo-manifesto — which Rich referred to only as a series of “notes” — Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying (1975). In this piece, Rich observes just some of the many lies women have been told over the course of history; she notes that many lies have been so socialised into women that we become willing vessels for them ourselves. She points out the unnerving result of accepting and socialising these lies.

To lie habitually, as a way of life, is to lose contact with the unconscious. It is like taking sleeping pills, which confer sleep but blot out dreaming. The unconscious wants truth. [...] This is why the effort to speak honestly is so important. Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler — for the liar — than it really is, or ought to be.

Rich believes that only women can possibly take hold of the key to this problem of socialised lies. They must pass through what Virginia Woolf called the “dark core”, and speak the truth — the ugly, difficult, freeing, empowering truth.

When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.

That is what Read This Press is asking you to do. We want to create an anthology of writing by women — women of all ages, nationalities, and walks of life — on the theme of truth. Tell us a truth you’ve never told anyone. Describe what it feels like to tell a lie. Write anything you want on this theme, and send it to us. There are no rules beyond these:

1. You must be female-identified. (We recommend that anyone who finds the concept of an all-female creative space in any way upsetting move quickly away from this blog.)
2. Your piece must be in some way recogniseable as poetry or short fiction. (We don’t want to impose word-limits, but bear in mind, this’ll be a chapbook publication, so if you send us something very long we may ask if you’d be willing to excerpt it or work on cutting it down.)
3. Please write on the theme. (The theme is Truth. Interpret that however you like.)

The final chapbook will be entitled Creatrix: Women Writers on Truth (for Adrienne Rich). It will be published as a limited edition chapbook by Read This Press, and edited by Claire Askew. Contributors will each receive one free copy of the chapbook.

To submit, please:

1) Email up to five pieces to claire [at] onenightstanzas [dot] com
2) Do this before midnight GMT on 1st May 2012
3) Include a few sentences of biographical information about yourself
4) Point out if any of the poems you’re submitting have been submitted or published elswhere

Please note that there may be a public launch for this book, or some other kind of promotional reading (or there may not — we’ll see), and we might ask you to read. Just a heads-up.

You can also email claire [at] onenightstanzas [dot] com with any questions. Please do pass on this submissions call to anyone you think might be interested in submitting — and feel free to spread the word on your blog, Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else you fancy.

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One Night Stanzas loves mail. Say hello via claire@onenightstanzas.com. 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!

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