Archive for August, 2008

Procrastination Station #1

Friday, August 29th, 2008


Photo by Tearoom.

Welcome to Procrastination Station, a.k.a my ‘look what I’ve found on the internet’ outlet. It’ll be a weekly thing; I shall distract you cruelly from the matter in hand (your studious reading and writing) and deliberately give you heaps of other things to think about… shiny shiny links to interesting stuff which will hopefully inform you, inspire you, make you smile and generally enhance your life!
So here goes…

After all the hype around the Beijing Olympics, one Times columnist is calling for a Poetry Slam Olympic Title…

…and, in related news, a Russian man is shocked to find he has written his first poem, inspired by the Olympic torch!

You still have time to vote for the Oddest Book Title of the Year

…and you can find out whose work won the title of Worst Writing of 2008!

Need a fascinating character for your writing? Do some people-watching with these fabulous street-photographs by Albrecht Tubke.

Chloe Garner tells us why the UK needs a female Poet Laureate

…and here’s a good candidate: the wonderful, silky-voiced Jackie Kay talks Scotland, childhood, poetry and identity in a brilliant interview for CBC Radio.

Audrey guest-blogs at iCing, on Being OK With Who You Are.

This is a very disturbing account of how publishers can prey on unsuspecting poets (it doesn’t happen often, but take heed!), which I thought I ought to pass onto you…

…but I also wanted to pass on the advice of lovely Edinburgh poet Alice Howlett, who tells you how to avoid negativity on the internet.

Got a link you think I should see? Let me know via the comments box, or here.

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Featured Magazines #1

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

New Leaf
Website: http://www.fb10.uni-bremen.de/newleaf/default.htm
Editors: Ian Watson, Simon Mikhali, Julia Boll
Established: 1994
Based in: Germany
Submit via email: newleaf.editors@uni-bremen.de
Submit by post: New Leaf, c/o Dr I Watson, Universitaet Bremen, Fachbereich 10, Postfach 330440, 28334 Bremen, Germany.
Copies: 2 euros each

New Leaf was my first real magazine gig, which means it holds a special place in my heart… but even with my bias aside, it’s a great, friendly publication run by lovely people! The creative writing magazine of the University of Bremen, New Leaf is based in Germany but its editorial team are nomadic, popping up in various places all over the globe. Perhaps because of this, they’re open to receiving submissions from writers everywhere, and every issue is packed full of great writing by poets and storytellers from all walks of life. There’s hardly ever anything between New Leaf’s pages that I don’t love.
They have upwards of 25 print issues to their name – as well as a small press imprint – and much of the work they feature also goes online, so they’re pretty well established both in print and on the web. The magazines are really good quality, impeccably designed and presented – often with bright, funky covers! I know one of the editors personally, and I can happily say that the whole team are friendly, approachable and open minded.

Submission guidelines snippet: “All submissions are welcome and will be read; we are also interested in giving prospective authors feedback on their work, especially if we decide not to print it. … Apart from the length of the magazine, there are no restrictions as to style, genre, content or format.”

About New Leaf snippet: “We aim to provide a balance: between guests and home-grown writers; between beginners and experience; between poetry and prose; between Bremen and the wider world.”

Open Wide Magazine
Website: www.openwidemagazine.co.uk
Editor: James Quinton
Based in: UK
Submit via email: contact@openwidemagazine.co.uk
Submit by post: Not applicable
Copies: Free, postage 50p / £1 overseas

OWM is a seriously rock ‘n’ roll zine, loosely affiliated (I think – correct me if I’m wrong!) with the University of Chester, UK. Doing for poetry what punk did for popular music, this lot are hip trailblazers who know a fresh and original submission when they see one. They’re after work from poets, fiction writers and reviewers alike… they just want to appeal to your inner ‘humanist vibe.’
OK, seriously - these guys are really cool. They have an appealingly low-fi website (which – added bonus! – features Jack Kerouac’s face!), and they no longer charge for copies of the magazine, having recently realised that giving up half of their precious page-space to advertisers and essentially “selling out” really, really sucks. The magazine is published sporadically – you might have to wait a while for each new issue – but it’s well worth the weeks of waiting! OWM are a plucky bunch who laugh in the face of no funding. They send you lovely emails if you’re accepted by them and they do keep in touch in the gaps between issues. Check them out.

Submission guidelines snippet: “Open Wide Magazine publishes short, punchy, original fiction and poetry with bite. No previously published material or simultaneous submissions are accepted. … Poetry - Any length considered. No rhyming!”

About OWM snippet: “We were close to making [the magazine] a glossy, advert laden monster… we were becoming the thing we’d started out against. With a new found faith and passion came the revelation that the magazine had to go back to its roots. We had to strip it down. Down to the words. The words are what matter.”

The Delinquent
Website: www.thedelinquent.co.uk
Editors: Jason King, Jeremy Quinn
Based in: UK
Submit via email: submissions@thedelinquent.co.uk
Submit by post: Not applicable
Copies: £3.50 (order direct for £4.50 or download for 69p here)

OK, first of all, I am in love with The Delinquent’s cover art. On the front of their fifth issue, they featured a super-bright painting of a crazy, wide-eyed flamingo! They’re also a little bit different to your everyday creative writing magazine, and here’s why…
The Delinquent like their content a little weird. They’re not huge fans of formalism (and particularly dislike villanelles!), but I sent them haikus and they liked ’em, so they do have open minds. In fact, I’m not sure you could find a more open-to-whatever-weirdness-you-can-throw-at-them publication if you tried – they like compound nouns, concrete poetry and anything else offbeat you can think of. They publish three times a year through Lulu, and their prices are more than worth it for the high-end production values and great, quirky writing – which is supplied by unknowns and more established names alike.

Submission guidelines snippet: “Send us whatever works. Words on a page. Things that haven’t been done before. Poems. Short stories. Diagrams & folk art. Articles. Yr essence. … We’d prefer a selection of poems.”

About The Delinquent snippet: “The Delinquent runs nicely on unleaded at 3i pa, which means it issues at the end of March, July and November. Subscribe! For 3 issues… £10.”

Know of a great creative writing magazine that you’d like to see featured here? Get in touch - give me a link to their site, and tell me in a few lines why you reckon they’re so awesome. Maybe you’re the editor, or maybe you’ve had your stuff published by them. Maybe they’ve given you some great feedback on a piece they’ve rejected. Let me know about them!

(Photo by Druzli)

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Things I Love Thursday #1

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

What is TiLT?
Things I Love Thursday (TiLT) is a growing internet phenomenon, begun by extraordinary NZ-born, NYC-based blogger Gala Darling. Following Gala’s lead, each Thursday people all over the world write online lists in their journals, blogs and Flickr streams, detailing the things that have made them smile in the past week. It’s a way of paying attention to the cool things in life, saying thank you to the Universe, and making yourself feel 100% positive - even if it’s only for a small part of the day. There’s only one TiLT rule: no negativity!

Why do TiLT on One Night Stanzas?
On my travels, and in my meetings with fellow poets and writers, something I’ve noticed is this: writers of all kinds need more positivity! Poets in particular can be horribly negative about their art, their ability, their future… and it has to stop! TiLT is all about giving yourself a shake and going ‘hey, look how good my life actually is!’ My TiLTs may not always be totally relevant to poetry or literature (although I’ll try!), but they’re still something I want you guys to participate in. So… write your own TiLT this Thursday. Stick it in the comments box or email it to me. I’ll feature the best ones each week, so get positive!

Without further ado, here’s my Things I Love Thursday #1!

- My Moleskine soft-cover year-and-a-half notebook planner. I bought it in the amazing Chapters Books (WHY don’t we have this store in the UK?! It kicks the ass of any chain bookstore in this country) in Victoria, BC while I was in Canada this summer, and I love it. It’s PERFECT for everything - I can even make my lesson plans and notes for work in it, so no more carting a million notebooks across the city anymore! It’s also very beautiful, although I am thinking about customising it a la these beasts. Got a Moleskine? (Is it customised? If so… let me see!) It really is the Notebook of Champions!

- Another Country by Jane Griffiths. This is the poetry book I’ve been working my way through for the past week or so. I heard it was shortlisted for the great big accolade that is The Forward Prize for Best Collection, and I’d read some good reviews etc, so I thought I’d give it a go. Normally, I don’t buy poetry books like that — I usually stand in the Poetry section of a bookstore for hours, leafing through collections until I find a poem that really hits me, so I was desperate for this £9.95 book to be worth it. It has been! It’s been a long, slow read - a lot of the poems need a couple of reads, some three or four - but I’ve really liked it. It’s really take-me-there, image-rich… and somehow very British, very London. It’s got me thinking and it’s got me writing. Five stars!

- Checking my emails every two-and-a-half seconds. I’m waiting to hear back from someone about a great big massive exciting poetry project I’ve got on the go, and it’s totally a could-go-either-way kind of thing. I am REALLY crossing my fingers over it… and I want you to cross yours for me too, even though I can’t tell you about it yet, in case it jinxes it. Anyway, although I know it’s very early days yet to hear back, I am still checking my mails like a maniac!

- Having the house to myself again! Since the end of June when he left his last job, The Boy (aka Leon) has been totally free, available and around 24/7. We spent a whole month travelling in Canada during July, and only now has he finally got back onto the old 9-5 wheel and into a new job. I’ve loved having him around constantly, but he has seriously cramped my style, too! Now that he’s career-ing again, I have the house to myself, which means I have peace and quiet to write, read, think, drink tea and dance around the living room without him ever knowing (I have really missed doing that!). I’m always bored by 5pm and ready for him to become a distraction again, but for those few hours? Bliss!

- Watching fireworks from my roof. The Edinburgh Military Tattoo ended last weekend, and Edinburgh Castle put on an epic firework display for the closing ceremony. There’s going to be another one this weekend when the Edinburgh Festival 2008 officially ends. Fortuitously, my flat is right next to the castle, and if you’re OK with heights, you can climb onto the roof, grab a beer and sit back to watch the proceedings! When Leon, my sister and I did this last weekend, we met a bunch of crazy Canadians up there who’d been in Edinburgh for a few months learning how to brew Real Ale. The gave us some of their first beer attempt and actually, it was pretty good! Fireworks, beer, and the risk of a possible 40-foot fall? Priceless.

Right you lot! I want to see your personal TiLT now… and get creative! Write your TiLT in swirly lettering on a blank wall in an alley and put a photo online. Record a zany Youtube video or write your TiLT all in verse. Whatever you do, stick a link in the comments box. Share your positivity with everyone!

(Photo by Girlhula)

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Inspiration Tips #1

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Make yourself a playlist full of all the songs that stir up artistic feelings in you. Maybe they mellow you out and get you into the flow, or perhaps they get you good and pissed off, ready to spit out some good angsty poetry. Personally, I love to listen to beautifully crafted lyrics, and for that I look to people like Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, and the crazy Devendra Banhart. Whoever you choose – and for whatever reason you choose them – gather them all together on your Inspiration Playlist and play it on a loop. See what happens.

Look through your old notebooks – and I mean all of ‘em. Your primary school English jotter, the scrapbook you made on your first holiday abroad, that secret diary you wrote in religiously every day at the age of ten: drag them out and have a good read. I bet you anything you’ll find some great starting-points for new poems. (Note: The key to this is not to be embarrassed or self-deprecating about your findings. I’m constantly coming across crusty old stuff that I wrote a million years ago (some of it is even online! Shock!) and, I admit it, my first reaction is usually along the lines of “oh, I didn’t actually write that, did I?!” However, I’ve started to train myself to look for the gold dust that sparkles somewhere – however faintly – in every poem.) Ditch the bad stuff, pick out the good stuff and use it to make brand new work… it’s recycling.

Take a bus or train ride. If no other inspiration comes along, write a haiku about each of your fellow passengers. They can be silly or serious – just see how many you can get done before your stop.

Get out and about. Charles Dickens famously used to walk the streets of London for hours in order to fill his head with ideas – and it worked. I think a lot of writers (myself included) are guilty of plonking themselves down at a desk and just staring blankly at their page or screen waiting for inspiration (I once read about a well-known novelist who ties one leg to her desk to avoid “being distracted”). But this is not the way to go about things. I mean, if you do happen to sit there for eight hours and eventually come up with a great poem, that’s brilliant – but mostly this sitting-still-and-waiting-for-the-Muse approach just makes you frustrated. Go grab a notebook and get out there – walk in the park, go to a busy cafe, sit in the bus station (I like to walk to one of Edinburgh’s posh suburbs and peer into the gardens of fancy townhouses). Don’t let yourself see this is a distraction, and don’t go out of the house thinking ‘this has to result in a piece of writing!’ Just go out, make notes (if you feel like it), notice things, be inspired.

Did any of these exercises inspire a great poem? If so, I want to see it! Also, let me know your inspiration tips!

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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 by Xtrapop)