Archive for January, 2009

Things I Love Thursday #22

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

A bit short this week (busy!), but still… l o v e l i s t o f l o v e l i n e s s . Keeping up, you new listers? Link back!

21sts. My sweet little sister turned 21 this Tuesday, and we’ve been celebrating like crazy to mark the big event! Last weekend The Boy and I jumped on a train to Newcastle, Metro-ed out through the suburbs to her house, and spent our Friday night chilling with her and her sweet flatmates, eating chocolate and watching movies. The next day, while Sister hung out with her college mates (and the poor boy sat in bed with the tail-end of a nasty flu bug), I went paper-shopping (see below!), and then Sister’s flatmates and I decorated the living room with paperchains and balloons, baked fairy cakes and got dolled up to the nines. The party theme was GLITTER GLAM ROCK and everyone rose to the occasion with big shoes, big hair and sparkles a-plenty. Heaps of people came over and we boogied the night away to glam classics like T Rex, David Bowie, Roxy Music and the nu-glam Scissor Sisters. As the party fizzled out, Sister + a couple of friends and I sneaked out into the backyard to play poi at 1.30am. Sweet!
On Sunday we went out for breakfast (er, milkshake!) at a cool American-style diner, and although The Boy and I had to get back to Edinburgh pretty soon after, Sister followed us up on Monday and spent a couple of days at our flat. We did some cookie-baking, some pub-crawling, some tea-drinking and some thrift-shopping. And this weekend we’re having a family get-together + huge meal to round things off. A week-long birthday? Heck yes!

Stocking up! So I mentioned paper shopping… but I don’t mean grabbing a few sheets of foolscap (cool word!) here. On Saturday I trekked out to the Metrocentre in Gateshead to visit The Papermill Shop, an awesomely cheap and cheerful craft supplies wholesaler. While I was there I bought my first load of card and paper for Read This Press — enough card for the cover of Skin Deep and my other pamphlet project, plus paper for the inner covers, a portable guillotine and a load of other bells and whistles that should make the task of putting together several hundred pamphlets that little bit easier. The store had so many great deals and loads of choice, so I spent ages in there, wandering around, filling a huge basket (until, er, the handle bent…) with loads of cool stuff and getting very excited about the whole thing. I even ended up getting £15 off… every little helps when you have no funding! (I did have to drag all this stuff back on the bus in a huge backpack, since I have no car, so my back is still suffering… you guys had better buy these books when they come out, so I can pay for physiotherapy to straighten out my spine!)

a handful of stones. Yes, you’ve seen this blog mentioned here about a million times now, but whatever… I still love it. Everyday it lights up my feedreader with a little splash of poetic sweetness with my morning tea — and this weekend it featured not only one of my poems, but — right alongside it — a really great poem by the inspiration machine that is Amanda Oaks. Glee!

Honourable mentions: learning to bake really good, really quick bread // train journeys spent reading great books // heavy Scottish skies // film+sofa+duvet // false eyelashes, drag-queen-stylee // teaching other people poi! (I only know about five moves!!) // riding the Metro // getting the writing urge // phonecalls with my Mammie // books arriving in the mail! //

(Photo by Chotda)

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This week’s Featured Poet Kinga Bryzek.

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Kinga Bryzek is Polish, and currently lives, works and studies in Ireland. She is 27 and still growing — she loves April (her birth month), green, art, mountains, and coffees in Costa with her friends. She is trying to explore life as much as possible while she’s still young — trying different things, and very busy lately — working and studying accounting. She is also writing a lot, and trying to get her poetry more widely read and published. This is a good start!

A moment to smile

I’m running all through a day
I’m running all through the night
I’m passing by the landscapes
pictures and paintings
and another few
business, allocations, balances
poetry, ironing and shooting
my sisters, my friends and you
so many things to be done
to be fallen in place
I want to give it my all
I always do

Sometimes it’s only
in rushing some way
I’m stopping to open the window
of a smile

(Photo by _silent)

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Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Part VI — The Road to Self Publication

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

A quick introduction to self publishing
Part I — The Pros of Traditional Publication
Part II — The Cons of Traditional Publication
Part III — The Road to Traditional Publication
Part IV — The Pros of Self Publication
Part V — The Cons of Self Publication
This is becoming quite a series! I hope it’s been helpful — I’ve tried to keep it as balanced as possible. Here’s the next installment: the road to publication, when you’re doing it yourself…

1: Read some poems.
You may recognise this from the other list, but I haven’t gone mad! This is the first step you should take before deciding to publish your work, regardless of how you’re planning to do it. OK, so you don’t have a publisher to impress, but you still want to shift copies of this book. If you’re not willing to read other people’s poetry, you cannot expect other people to read yours. So (and this is becoming my catchphrase) get thee to a library!

2: Get your stuff “out there” first.
Yes, this is lifted from the other list as well… but again, it’s an important thing to do. When you’re self-publishing, you want to get your work into journals and magazines beforehand for slightly different reasons: rather than needing to prove that you have a good “track record” for the publisher, it really is more about building up a CV and getting your name heard. It’s one thing to produce a book and stick a price tag on it, but to guarantee that people will see it, buy it and read it, it’ll need to get some PR. If you’ve already been published in some big magazines, it’s more likely that a reviewer will want to check you out — particularly if, off the back of your previous publications, they’ve seen your name before. Being published previously can also help with write-ups by bloggers — bloggers have to be careful what they say, becaue they want to keep their readers, so they’re much more likely to feel cool about reviewing your stuff if you come with the seal of approval from a zine they know and like. And being able to put an impressive CV next to your book’s ‘buy now’ button on Amazon means that people are more likely to buy it on impulse than if they’re not sure who you are or whether you’re any good.

3. Finish your manuscript first.
If you’ve got a rough collection of poems but you haven’t honed it yet, don’t start looking at your publishing options — if you do, you might well be tempted to just chuck something together in the heat of the moment. The idea of turning your humble scribbles into a real, physical book can be very exciting, and it’s easy to be swept away by it. If you were working with a publisher, they wouldn’t allow you to rush things — they’d help you to edit your collection and make sure it was 100% ready to go before packing it off to the printers. You should try to maintain this discipline even when you’re working alone. Try the poems in a different order and see how they work, put the manuscript away for a couple of weeks so you can look at it with fresh eyes, get an outsider’s perspective, edit edit edit! These are all things you’d do if you were publishing traditionally, and you should absolutely do them anyway.

4: Choose your publishing method.
Huge advantage of self-publishing: you control everything. However, don’t be tempted to go with the first option you come across — shop around, and try to get the best book you can. Do you want to go with a print on demand company? If so, which one? What is your main concern — a good looking book? Something easy to understand and use? Something cheap? Look at all the options, consider the pros and cons of each, and make a careful decision. Also, think about the alternatives — hand making your book, collaborating with an illustrator or book binder. All valid options!

5: Make sure everything is done right!
Particularly with POD, once you hand your manuscript over that’s it… you wait around for a while and then the finished book hits your doormat. So because you don’t have the same level of communication as you have with a traditional publisher, you need to make sure everything is good to go and all the forms are filled in correctly before you commit. You really don’t want to be forever haunted by a typo or end up with your order messed up just because you rushed some online form or forgot to spellcheck. There’s no way of fixing these mistakes once they’ve happened, so prevent them as far as you possibly can!

6: Be patient.
It can take a while for things to happen, even with self publishing. A lot of print-on-demand companies have so much to do that it can be a while before you see your finished book, or even a proof. If you’re hand-making your own books you’ll need to wait until you have a good chunk of time (and I mean more like a week than an afternoon) to sit down and do it. Self publishing is generally quicker than the more traditional alternatives, but it’s still not instant. Be prepared to wait!

7: Plan your selling strategy.
While you’re waiting for your books to be printed, you can sit down and work out your selling strategy. As I pointed out in Part V, when you self-publish, you’re responsible for every single sale of every single book — so how are you going to get those books flying off the shelves, as it were? Just because you’re self-published doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a distribution plan, an idea of where the books will be available from and whether you’ll pay for that, or take on more work by skipping the third-party-seller thing. Don’t expect people to wander up to you in the street and say “can I buy your book?” (and don’t expect to be able to wander up to people in the street yourself, either!) — you have to plan it out and get things moving before the books even arrive.

8: Market your book TO DEATH.
Well, you don’t have to do this, but if you don’t, you’ll never shift your books! Use whatever you have at your disposal — your Facebook account, your eBay messages, your email signature. Set up a blog just for your book and get reciprocal links set up to relevant sites and zines. If you’re selling through a third party, pimp out the shopfront everywhere — make stickers, make ads on websites if you can afford it, ask for reviews from publications large and small alike. Get your handmade books on Etsy, and if you want to, wander around your local bookstores and sound them out, see if they’ll take some copies. You are officially your own PR department… and welcome to the world of PR!

9: Check the legal stuff.
I mean copyright, and acknowledgements. Check that the POD company you’re going to doesn’t demand any of your copyright, and if they work under a creative commons license or the like, find out your own rights before you commit. Make sure you copyright your work somehow before you publish it, even if you just seal it in an envelope and post it to yourself. Acknowledge previous publications of any poems or parts of poems that are also in the book. And if you send poems from the book out for publication in future, be sure to make the journal or zine aware that the poems in question have been previously (self)published.

10: Enjoy it!
Self-publishing can be loads of work, feel like a lot of responsibility, and fail to live up to your expectations. HOWEVER, it is a brand new, revolutionary way to publish, and you have total control of every step. In many ways, it is absolutely what is best for your work, and no matter what happens, your self published book is in no way inferior to any book published by a proper publishing house. So keep your chin up, work hard and make the book as good as you can… and feel proud of it. Publishing your own book of poems yourself is quite an achievement — acknowledge it.

Questions? Suggestions? Email

(Photo by JillHannah)

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Five ways to beat Blue Monday.

Monday, January 19th, 2009

A while ago, some bright spark named 19th January ‘the most depressing day of the year,’ and for 2009 it’s been given the nickname “Blue Monday.” I’m not sure what the logic behind this is, but I’m aware that sometimes you just have one of those days. Here are a few ways to banish your Blue Monday, whether it happens to be today or not…

Go back to bed. When you get in from work after a crappy day, your first impulse is just to crawl under the duvet and hide from the world… but you feel like you ought to do something more productive, right? Forget it. Apart from anything else, sleep is really good for you, and it’s highly possible that the reason you feel so rubbish is because you’re not getting enough of it in the first place. Sleeping is not necessarily a lazy or indulgent activity — in fact, if you’re feeling totally zapped and brainless, it might be the most productive thing you could possibly do!

Cook something. Some people see cooking as a stressful activity, but it’s something I tend to do when I am stressed, in order to calm down. The key is not to worry about things being done quickly or coming out absolutely perfectly. Cook something you like, for yourself, and take your time over it. I usually bake alpineberry’s cookies (you can substitute the nutella & nuts for choc chips or raisins if like me you live with someone with a nut allergy) — it’s really quick, really easy and there’s no rushing it. You could also try baking bread — it takes a while, but it’s a slow, steady process that involves lots of kneading, a great stress-reducing activity! Find a really simple recipe (I recommend Nigella’s — particularly the quesadillas! — and Green and Blacks chocolate recipes!) for something you really like, make it, and then enjoy it. If you really can’t stand the thought of messing up or getting stressed, try my friend Lucy’s recipe for Christmas candy (er, so what if it isn’t Christmas?). You need white chocolate, mint humbugs, and peppermint essence. Put the humbugs (about a handful or so) in a sandwich bag, and bash them to bits with a rolling pin (FUN!). Melt the white chocolate (about 150g minimum) and mix in the smashed humbugs, then add about half a teaspoon or so of peppermint essence. Spread the mixture into a dish and shove it in the fridge. It sets in 1-2 hours and is freaking lovely… no cooking required!

Write. OK, OK, you’re miserable, uninspired and depressed, and the last thing you want to do is pick up a pen. Well tough — try it. If you’re a writer, chances are one of the greatest pleasures in your life is producing a great piece of writing, and believe it or not, your best writing can come out of your lowest moments. Some of the best poems I’ve ever written came about right after my grandmother’s death, and I’ve also found that some of the supposedly angry and incoherent scribbles I made after a break up or disappointment have turned into good stuff later on. For writers, putting pen to paper can be theraputic as well as productive, so even if what comes out is gibberish, do what you do best. Don’t allow yourself to edit or censor, just write until you’re bored, without paying too much attention to the quality of the stuff coming out. When you’re done, don’t read over it… hide it. Put it away somewhere and don’t get it out again until your blue mood has totally passed. You might find when you look at it again that you’ve produced some pretty good stuff.

Read. Books are all about escapism, so if you’re feeling totally sick and tired of the real world, you can always find relief by reading. Reading for therapy is not the same as other reading — you don’t have to feel obliged to start something new, read something you’ve been meaning to read for ages but haven’t got round to, or even read anything particularly worthwhile. If what you feel like reading is a magazine, no worries. If you want to read a book you’ve already read a million times, there is no need to feel guilty. If War and Peace is sitting on your shelf gathering dust but you really can’t face it, fine… let it sit there a bit longer. The whole point of banishing Blue Monday is freeing yourself from obligation — if you don’t feel like doing something, don’t do it. As long as you don’t adopt this attitude every single day, or for no reason, there is no harm in it every once in a while.

Wwilf. Wwilf stands for “what will I look for?” and the term “wwilfing” originally referred to the practice of randomly clicking around Wikipedia, following links from article to article. Since, it has come to refer to any kind of random internet wandering –a practice that is generally discouraged, particularly in the workplace! I reckon that wwilfing can definitely help you to recover from a crappy day, however, and it doesn’t have to be totally mindless… every day I learn something new by sifting through the hundreds of new blog posts in my feedreader. I highly recommend the Look At This blog, which basically catalogues weird and wonderful links from all over the internet, ranging from the educational to the downright ridiculous. You already know my love of the Guardian Books Blog… it churns out fantastic articles on all things literary, and you can spend hours there, just sifting through them. Ron Silliman’s famous links pages are like a encyclopaedia of literary articles, serious and silly, from around the world… and the rest of the blog contains some good stuff too. I also recommend Contrariwise, DWT, RetroToGo and Gala — happy wwilfing!

Questions? Suggestions? Email me via — I’m always happy to hear from you!

(Photo by Z!KeepeR)

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This week’s Featured Poet Tom Rendell interviewed.

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

You can see Featured Poet Tom’s poems here and here, and now you can find out a little more about him, his work and his creative process…

Tell us about your poems.
I am new to poetry so am yet to figure out my particular style. I like my poems to be off the wall, taking an unusual view of an everyday topic. I write poems because I enjoy it, and because of the wealth and abundance of worthy topics in existence. Life is incomprehensibly complex, but sometimes a good poem can make it seem simple. For me poetry is not something that I sit and concentrate on, I never sit down and think ‘OK it’s time to write a poem’. The idea for a poem will be triggered in my head by something, and will form naturally until the words seem greater than the sum of their parts when put together, their order makes sense. It’s like each object, action, phenomena contains poetry, and every now and again someone recognises this and finds the words to express it.

That’s the pompous, wordy answer to try and make myself look clever. Basically I sometimes write poetry because I find it satisfying and rewarding, like a hobby. If anyone else takes pleasure in it, then that is a brilliant bonus. I enjoy using wordplay and generally keep my poems short as I know that we, as the Internet generation, have very short attention spans and the readers mind wanders. Mine certainly does, which is perhaps why I have never written a poem of more than two stanzas.

How long have you been writing?
3 months.

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
This is my first publication and I am new to the poetry scene. From here I intend to send my poems around to whoever will read them.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Winning 2nd prize in my family’s poetry competition back in 1998, I was very proud. My younger brother narrowly beat me to the first prize of a bar of chocolate with one of those poems that, when you take the first letter of each line and read them vertically, spells out a word or phrase. His spelt ‘God’s Gift’ and the poem finished: ‘a boy falls from a lift/ No one’s hurt, that’s God’s gift.’ The best man won.

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
The best is the feeling you get when someone enjoys your poem, it’s a really cool feeling, although I have experienced this very few times. This is because of the worst thing about poetry; for me poems are really personal, and I find it difficult to show them to people. This isn’t because they’re full of my deepest inner thoughts and dreams, I just feel that you’re really out on a limb when you read them, especially to people that you know well. A strange contradiction exists in writing poetry because you want to people to read and enjoy your poems, but it’s often too scary to show them. It’s a bit like keeping a diary, they’re very personal but is there a voice in the writers mind hoping that one day they will be read?

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
I’m young and way too inexperienced to be throwing advice about, I know very little myself. I think all you can really do is write poems that you enjoy and are proud of, not poems that you think other people want to read. If you like them, the chances are other people will as well. Also I think it’s easy to worry too much about the rules of poetry, if people also abided by rules things would never advance. Just as poetry is subjective, so are its rules, what one sees as poetry another may not, but I see no problem with that. If you’re scared to show your poetry to people you know then send it to other poets, magazines, blogs like this one. The internet is an endless resource of advice, information and ideas about poetry, and has made it a lot easier to get your poems read.

Who/what influences your poetry?
Seamus Heaney - ‘Between my finger and my thumb/the squat pen rests, snug as a gun.’


We aren’t gonna find hopes and dreams
Hidden in computer screens
How am I supposed to excel constantly seeing
The world through windows
Spread the word, my points hold power
Hotter than a Firefox.

Time to restart from the heart
Shutdown the mainframe
Drive a hard bargain and
Drop down all the menus.
Fuck surfing the web and actually
Swim in a sea of truer blue.

Want to be a Featured Poet? Drop me a line with at least three of your poems included to!

(Photo by RebootYourComputer)

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More from this week’s Featured Poet Tom Rendell

Friday, January 16th, 2009

You’ve already met Tom, and he’ll be interviewed here in the next couple of days. In the meantime, here is another of his poems!

Denis in Space

Denis, has gone for a year out, in Space.
Skating skywards purple boots, heels click kicking high,
A celestial shout heckles the planets, white teeth dazzle stardust,
Parents – dentists, oh so proud of their satellite son.
It’s party time in the galaxy, crystal phantoms chatter by,
Mine sweep green goblets of Beetle Juice, and off,
Soul screaming, wild – eyed,
To run rings around Saturn.

Want to see your poems featured here? Send me at least three pieces of your work to — I’m always happy to hear from you!

Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space (Elvis Version), originally uploaded by Lady Vervaine.

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Procrastination Station #21

Friday, January 16th, 2009

How green is Carol Ann Duffy? // The results of the wonderful Mark Doty’s writing workshop // Poster poems: ballads // Win yourself the whole Costa Award shortlist!

Every beautiful book cover ever made + the worst book covers of 2008 (and some of them really are bad!)

In memory of the late, great Jason Shinder, to whom I am most indebted.

The phrases you (apparently) need to know to get through 2009.

Transform your life in three minutes and thirty two seconds… or, why self-help books don’t work.

This is not just paper…

A sweet poem by former Featured Poet William Soule, from a handful of stones.

I just found Annie Mole’s London Underground blog and, er… online empire, and it’s awesome! I particularly like her Tube Fashion Victims Flickr Set.

Suicide notes of the rich and famous, and musicians who predicted their own deaths (yes, I am morbid).

Fantastic church billboards.

Draw a house, and find out how sane you really are…

Being childish rules! So resign from adulthood already!

And finally… 9 Reasons Not To Date A T Rex.

(Plus, a little thank you to Bill at Tattoosday for his mention of Read This Press’ Skin Deep Project — submit already!)

(Photo by * Ahmad Kavousian *)

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Things I Love Thursday #21

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Love list. Hope those of you who made this your New Year’s Resolution are keeping up! If so… link back!

Kate Winslet’s Golden Globes victory. Yes, this seems like a tiny, petty thing but it really made me happy this week. In case you haven’t been paying attention, Kate Winslet won the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards at this year’s ceremony. I haven’t seen either of the movies in question yet — I am itching to see both — but I know she’s a deserving winner… Kate is pretty much my hero! I have very, very little time for mannequin-esque Hollywood actresses — all the Hollywood glamour seems painfully fake and rather disturbing to me — particularly given my current reading material (see below)! So it’s so refreshing to find an actress who’s doing well in Hollywood but who is very selective about what parts of the media circus she gets involved with, is incredibly down to earth and who can really, truly act brilliantly. Kate has done a lot of campaigning for normal female body images in the media, and donated heaps of money to eating disorder charities. She’s also taken on some amazing, brave and feminist roles — I loved her in Hideous Kinky, and particularly in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And she’s one of the few British actresses who really gets the attention they deserve on the other side of the pond. I love her! I was so happy about her win, it was weird — it was as if I knew her!
Check out her acceptance speeches here and here. I absolutely LOVED the fact that she initially forgot Angelina Jolie when thanking the other nominees for Best Actress — Angelina, to me, is one of the most overhyped celebrities out there, and seemingly a very unpleasant woman. She also can’t act to save her life, so it’s no wonder Kate couldn’t remember why she was nominated!

Jen Hadfield’s TS Eliot victory. For all that I was pleased for Kate Winslet, I was even more pleased yesterday when I woke up and heard the news that the amazing Jen Hadfield had won the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry. Jen is a former student from the English Lit MA I just completed and the Creative Writing MSc I am now doing, so everyone in my little circle is incredibly happy and proud for her. What’s more, she is the youngest TS Eliot winner ever and incredibly, incredibly deserving. Plus, she writes in Scots! You can see coverage of her win here, and there’s a little interview with her here — she also reads one of her poems and it’s well worth a listen. If you get a chance, please go and buy a copy of the winning collection, Nigh-No-Place. Congratulations, Jen!

this collection. It’s going from strength to strength thanks to all the fantastic submissions from you guys! We’ve had some really brilliant poems come in, reflecting every side, area, and mood of my amazing home city. We’re beginning to put together the Top 100 poems, but there is still time to submit! We have extended the deadline to Friday 13th February, so keep those poems coming (… and click the link above to see the poems we already have!

Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey. This is what’s putting me off Hollywood all the more! It’s an examination of life in present day LA. Recommended!

Being back at Uni. I had my first creative writing workshop since the Christmas holidays yesterday, and it was great to catch up with all my classmates again and see what they’d been scribbling over the festive season. We also had the first Read This editorial meeting of the new year yesterday and found some brilliant stuff waiting for us in the team inbox. Read This 14 will be printed and available as of next week!

Honourable mentions: Waking up and dancing around the living room to T Rex! // Hosting late New Year parties, just to make sure the year is well and truly started with a bang! // Having dreamy dreams (I normally wake up not remembering my dreams, so this is awesome) // Damson jam (new addiction) // Projects taking off // “Business” meetings! // My sister’s forthcoming birthday: party, family get-together & week staying at my house // Putting together my Suzi Quattro costume for said party // writing poems that don’t totally suck.

What’s on your list this week?

(Photo by Boopsie.daisy)

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This week’s Featured Poet: Tom Rendell

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

This week’s Featured Poet Tom Rendell became a poet through a love of reading poetry, as he told me in his initial submission email: “the more poetry I read, the more I enjoy it, and every now and again a small voice chips up from somewhere in my head that suggests that perhaps I should give it a go myself.” He hasn’t been writing long, but he’s learned well! I love his poetry and I hope you will too. There’ll be more of it on the blog in the next few days — as well as an interview, of course. Here’s the first, be sure to leave a comment if you enjoy it!

On The Tube

How can I possibly get my poem
Put up on the Tube?
To be read by hungry eyes
Blown by the dry warm wind that is chased
By the screeching fat slug of the train.

To enter the head of the business man
Whose thoughts reside in his black briefcase
Or show the young man there’s more to words
Than black spray paint spent on tunnel walls.

Want to be an ONS Featured Poet? Just drop me a line and no less than three of your poems to — I’m always happy to hear from you!

(Photo by Kailos P(hotography).)

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Featured Poet Shirla White Interviewed!

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

You’ve already seen Shirla’s poems here and here, and if you want to see more, you can visit her deviantART site. You can also learn some more about her and her writing right here!

Tell us about your poems.
My poems are little mirrors where you can see your reflection as well as my own. They’re entries in a diary left open for everyone to read and learn from. My imagery and subjects vary, but I try to keep a simplistic, minimalist approach to each piece so the reader can enjoy a mostly pristine experience as they delve into my life and take a piece of myself with them when they’ve finished.

How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first poem when I was six years old. My sister was the editor of a local newspaper’s poetry section and wanted to publish something I wrote, so we sat down together by a computer and came up with ideas. After a while, I had my first poem typed into a WordPad document which eventually made its way into The Rome News Tribune. I was always an avid reader, but after that, I read even more. I’d write poems whenever I had an idea to work with, and when I didn’t, I’d open up a notebook and scribble lines down just so I could feel the pencil glide across the paper. I’m almost eighteen now, so I’ve been writing for about twelve years.

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
Yes! I’ve been published five times in Asahi Haikuist Network, twice in Soundzine, WindScript, and a handful of stones, and once in bottle rockets, Mainichi Daily News, The Moose Jaw Times Herald, Clearfield Review, and Poetry Friends. I also upload my poems to deviantART. I’ve been invited by WindScript to a poetry reading in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in February for the CBC Poetry Face-Offs, so I may branch out into the performing aspects of the art.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Hm…I’d have to say earning the Currie-Hyland Prize for Excellence in Poetry. It’s a prize awarded by WindScript as a tribute to Robert Currie and Gary Hyland (lifetime poet laureates of Saskatchewan) “in recognition of literary excellence, commitment, and generosity to students and fellow writers.” It’s awarded to a high school writer living outside Regina or Saskatoon. WindScript is a prestigious magazine staffed by great people, so this is an amazing honour. Aside from that, I like to inspire and entertain people through my writing, so whenever someone tells me something like “I really needed to read this”, it really makes my day.

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
I’d say the best thing about writing poetry is the ability to inspire and motivate. It amazes me how much I can encourage people through diction, and it inspires me to continue doing so. It gives my gift a purpose, and that’s really reassuring. It’s difficult to think of a negative aspect of writing poetry, but when my muse goes on an idea spree, it’s usually between midnight and four in the morning. When this happens, I wake up, write a prompt or two down, and go back to sleep. It isn’t really a bad thing, but it’s the most accurate way I can answer this question.

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
You were given the gift of language for a reason; make sure that you share it as much as you can. Attend poetry slams or readings (or both). Give poems to others as gifts. Get published when and where you can. Publicity ensures that your words will live on in the lives of others and benefit countless people. This is poetry in its most selfless form: ministry.

Who/what influences your poetry?
I think that poetry is the world and the world is poetry, so I find inspiration in many places. It may come from a quote I come across casually or a major event in my family. Other influences include my favourite poets and poems, as well as good music, nature, and human interaction.


She was a bottle of champagne,
tall, slender-necked, and frothing over
with enthusiasm.

The crevice came a sullen lifetime later.
Fulminant, it blocked the passage
of her sparkling zeal, cutting off the nectar
of longevity that restored Eden
and hushed the lurking serpent.

Doctors shook her up, but
she never fizzed. Granite became lodged
in her throat; she heaved and gave to invasion.

Birthing contortions,
her hand-shaped, air-blown body
burst. The blockage rolled in tandem off the floor
and into a cleaner glass, mouth gaping.

Want to see YOUR poetry featured here? Just drop me a line to — send 3 - 4 poems for me to peruse and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can!

(Photo by Edwardolive ..)

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