Posts Tagged ‘new year’

In 2013, I…

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Happy 2013

At the end of 2012, I wrote, “it’s been a great year. I feel I am a million miles away from the place I was in this time last year — phew! I am also extremely excited about 2013 and all that it holds for me. I plan to finish my PhD, put together my first full-length poetry collection (at last!), get more tattoos (yeah!), and start work on a ton of exciting new projects. Wish me luck!” Did I manage all those things? I freaking well did! Check it out!

In 2013, I…

* saw in the New Year with loads of lovely friends around me, shimmying on down at the Summerhall New Year bash. Amazing night! (If you can go to this year’s one, I highly recommend it!)

* re-joined the Making It Home Project for our ambitious film-making phase, thanks to funding from the wondrous Creative Scotland! Keep reading to find out how it went…

* began a year of mentoring sessions with Sarah Ream, poetry ed at Polygon and total and utter superhero, funded by the Scottish Book Trust. With help from Sarah, I began taking nervous little baby steps towards creating a first collection MS.

* spent a very cold few days in and around gorgeous Oslo in the new year: negotiating several feet of snow, discovering the incredible TV show Borgen (and becoming totally hooked!), and writing plenty of poems.

* baked a lot of stuff.

* celebrated my 27th birthday: there was snow! In March!

* celebrated my first veganniversary by pledging to continue to eat as much delicious cruelty-free dessert as I can find. Win!

* repeatedly apologised to everyone for not doing more poetry gigs… when actually, when I look back, I did quite a lot.

* spent Easter in beautiful, deliciously warm Barcelona: revisiting all my favourite vegan restaurants, sunbathing in parks and on rooftops, and again, writing lots of poems. Hooray!

* became suddenly able to afford to buy a house with Lovely Boyfriend. Began immediately and excitedly house-hunting!

* successfully co-edited (alongside the gorgeous Jane McKie) the Making It Home Book, with thanks to all of YOU for your generous crowdfunding!

* spent over nine hours under the needle to have my Oliver No. 9 typewriter half-sleeve tattooed. It is so lush! (Scroll down!)

* escaped one heck of an evil manager, and immediately boosted my self-esteem, by negotiating a transfer to teach at a different campus. (He’s since been demoted and is no longer anyone’s manager. Thanks, karma!)

* went out filming with the brilliant media co-op and our gorgeous groups of Making It Home women. I learned all about how hard film-making is (needless to say, the women were all flippin’ geniuses at it), held lots of things, and ran around with coats keeping our actresses warm!

* I went to lovely London for a few days and discovered Foyles. HOW HAD I NEVER BEEN TO THIS MAGICAL PLACE BEFORE?! (I bought so many books. So many.)

* successfully negotiated the purchase of our new house, a sweet two-bed semi off Inverleith Row (no less)…

* …and immediately began the process of completely re-vamping this never-modernised house. The phrase “no idea what we were getting into” doesn’t even start to cover it!

* learned how to work a belt-sander, learned how to plaster, and wielded a sledgehammer (oh hell yeah!) for the first time ever, thanks to the above!

* went on tour around Edinburgh and Glasgow, showcasing Making It Home. Thank you so much to the many magical people who supported us on our whistle-stop tour!

* finally drew a line under three-and-a-half years of study, and submitted my PhD.

* started the serious work of putting together my manuscript.

* was selected for the Contemporary Women’s Writing Skills Development programme, and attended the amazing first session at the University of Southampton.

* re-launched Edinburgh Vintage as a jewellery store and saw a fourfold increase in sales!

* successfully interviewed for, and accepted, a brilliant amazing fantastic wonderful new job (basically, my dream job, I’m serious) at Scottish Book Trust. I am now their Young Adult Project Co-Ordinator!

* spent four great days in beautiful Munich: eating vegan food, petting lots of kitties, and being constantly surrounded by pretty autumnal foliage. (We also visited the memorial camp at Dachau, which was exhausting, but I now believe that visiting a concentration camp is something every privileged human ought to do at some point.)

* completed a first draft of my first collection manuscript, and began test-driving poems from it at various events… including at Book Week Scotland!

* organised and judged the inaugural One Night Stanzas Poetry Contest! Have you read the winning poems yet?

* had a wood-burning stove put in as part of our new house renovations. Imagine how good that might be, then double it.

* successfully defended my PhD thesis to examiners Miriam Gamble and Dr Leontia Flynn at my viva. I passed! You may now call me Dr Askew!

* finished building and renovation work on our living room only just in time for Christmas, and spent my first Christmas morning with Lovely Boyfriend — after four years of being together! Blissful.

The year in photos…

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Chilling in Oslo…

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…but warming up again in Barcelona!

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27th birthday cupcakes!

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A storyboard from one of the amazing Making It Home films.

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The half-sleeve! Six months on and I still swoon when I look at it.

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Out filming with the gorgeous Sheena, Elaine and Stacey of Making It Home. Such pros.

Ahlam, Augusta, Lucinda and the MIH posse, Making it Home Farewell Party at NEA
Celebrating a successful Making It Home tour, with a triumphant boogie at North Edinburgh Arts!

Floor sanding
House flippin’! Sanding, sanding, so much sanding…

In the English Garden, Munich, 16/10/13
Hanging out in autumnal Munich.

Goldenacre Path.  My new neighbourhood!
My new neighbourhood!

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Sparkly stuff goes live at Edinburgh Vintage!

Making it Home meets Book Week Scotland at Glasgow Women's Library!
Book Week Scotland 2013!

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The thesis-beast: SLAYED!

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FINISHED IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!!! …just.

Wishes for 2014?
You know what? I am so freaking happy right now. In the past year, so many amazing things have happened — passing my PhD, buying my first house with my gorgeous man, landing my dream job. I feel greedy wishing for anything else, really. However, I do like to have goals, so here are one or two hopes for the year ahead…

*Shop my poetry MS around some cool publishers, and hopefully place it somewhere fantastic (I know, I know. Poetry is dismal right now, especially for first collections. But we can but try).
* Gather my strength to continue the great renovation and finish off the kitchen, tackle the bathroom and create a veggie garden!
* Adopt a dog… or two! Probably greyhounds!
That’s basically it. Oh, and write some good poems. That’d be nice, too.

If you want to see what I got up to in 2008, 2009, 2010 2011, or 2012, just click on each year!

I hope 2014 brings you everything you could possibly wish for, and more besides. Happy New Year!

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

Things I Love Thursday #74: Christmas & New Year edition

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Skelelove
While I was home for Christmas, I stayed in my sister’s room. Her interior decor is super cool!

Christmas times

Christmas times

Christmas times
My parents always decorate the house in a sweet, traditional way. The decorations are a big part of Christmas for me!

Christmas times

Christmas times

Christmas times

Colours!

Christmas times

Christmas times

Christmas times
My mum is a teddy bear collector — they’re perfect if you need a cuddle!

Happy New Year from One Night Stanzas!

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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!

A To Do List For 2013: Why, how, and what.

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

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

OK, as regular readers might have noticed, I am an obsessive list-maker. I make time for a Love List and a Link Love List every week, and New Year is my favourite time — it’s all about wishing and hoping, planning and dreaming, as Dusty would’ve said (or rather, mimed hideously!). I’ve been reading a lot of articles recently rubbishing this kind of thing, but forget it — I am a typical dreamy Pisces, and I need to organise myself well in advance. So I will still be making New Year’s Resolutions (though only ones I know I can keep!), and I’ll also be writing a 2013 To Do List.

Why should I write a To Do List for the whole year?

Well, everyone writes To Do Lists from time to time, no matter how well organised they are… usually when they have a lot on, and it’s important that they get everything done. Well, apply that kind of thinking to a whole year — how much stuff will you have to deal with between now and December 31st next year? Surely it’s a good idea to have a bit of a plan before you start, in order to hit the ground running. You can never be too organised.
Also, a year might seem like a long time but as we all know, you get to Christmas every year and inevitably find yourself commenting on how it only seems like five minutes since it was January. This is why it’s not only important to write down all the achievements of the past year, but also to get ready for the next one, to make sure that the 365 fleeting days are well-spent. Here’s a fact for you: if you write down your goals, you are more likely to achieve them, so To Do Lists are NOT a waste of time. If there’s something you really want to achieve in the next 12 months, write it down now… it could make the difference between success and failure.

How should I do it?

Prioritise: Maybe you have some goals that you’re desperate to achieve — getting really good exam results, for example. Maybe there are others that aren’t so vital — you’d really like to get your poetry published in a certain place, for example, but if it doesn’t happen you won’t be totally devasted. And maybe you just have some odd little whims that you can take or leave but might try out at some point…
A good idea might be to write three separate lists, or divide your list into three ’sections’ according to your priorities. Don’t sweat the small stuff — but at the same time, don’t forget it either. Put the biggest want for 2013 at the very top of the list in big letters, and keep the airy whims for the end.

Be realistic: Don’t clutter up your To Do List with things that you know aren’t achieveable in the next year. If you start too big you’ll end up disappointed with yourself at the end of the year when you find you haven’t reached you goal — remember, as I said, a year isn’t as long as it seems! If you have a big goal like saving up for a house or writing and publishing an epic six-part novel, you might want to make a separate list for the next five years, ten years or whatever. You can also put slightly silly goals like “note to self: win the lottery” on a fantasy To Do List if you like… just keep them off the serious list!

Expand: If you have a goal but aren’t sure how you’re going to achieve it, you can turn your list into more of a plan. If your goal is to travel for six months, for example, you can note down the steps you think you’ll need to take to get there… “get job / open savings account / save up and stop buying notebooks obsessively (confession!) / book flights in advance” etc. A great big goal can seem a bit scary and unrealistic, but break it down into smaller steps and it will seem less intimidating and easier to achieve.

Share: You might not want to let other people in on your cunning plan for world domination, but showing your To Do List to someone else can make you more likely to get where you want to be. Proving to someone else that you can do it gives you added incentive, and having someone to talk to if the going gets rough is always useful. If you’re feeling shy, just show your best friend or a family member who won’t snigger at the fact that your ambition for the year is to become a professional Cliff Richard impersonator or whatever… or if you’re more confident, get thee to your blog, or better still, spread the To Do List idea around your friends. If they also draw one up you can compare notes and keep one another going!

Display: Once you’ve written your To Do List, don’t just stuff it in a drawer or squirrel it away in a dusty old file on your computer desktop. Put it somewhere you’ll see it often, and make sure you check back every so often to see how you’re doing. It may sound daft, but crossing another thing off your list brings a real sense of achievement, AND if you get to the end of the year with everything crossed off, how awesome is it going to feel?? If your To Do List is out in the open you can also update it as more ideas and ambitions hit you during the year… and this humble piece of paper will serve as a cool memento of the fabulous 12 months you’ve finally put behind you once you get to New Year 2010!

What should I put on my To Do List?

Anything you want. The important thing is that, if you think you can achieve it in a year, you should put it down, regardless of how daft it might seem. If you’re worried about other people thinking you’re nuts, you don’t have to show the list to anyone… and if you end up not achieving the big goal for the year, you can transfer it to next year’s list instead. Nothing is too small for the list, and nothing is too vague. “Finish reading the last Harry Potter” is just as acceptable as “Conquer Finnegan’s Wake,” and “be more confident,” might seem very general, but putting it down on paper is the first step towards getting it done.

Note! The To Do List you make is there to be scribbled all over, torn to bits and stuck together again or chucked on the fire if you so wish. Don’t write it and then assume it’s set in stone. You can add things at a later date, remove things if you change your mind, and tear it up and start again in August if you find your priorities shifting massively. You’re not writing a personal Bible or anything, you’re just visualising goals, which is the first step on the road to achieving them. If, halfway down that road, those goals don’t seem as appealing anymore, no worries. The whole point of the To Do List is that it can — and probably should — evolve. Happy listing!

What’s on YOUR To Do List for 2013?

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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)

In 2012, I…

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

2012 journal... nearly done!

You may remember my admission here, in January, that 2011 had not been a very good year. I wrote here — and in my paper journal — that I wanted to reclaim my life from work-related stress and insomnia. I also wrote in my paper journal that I wanted to extricate myself from the politics and cliques of the poetry community (locally and online), and just write. It took a while — nearly all year, with the latter — but I feel like I can now say I managed to do those things. 2012 was a good year, all told. Here’s some of the stuff that happened.

In 2012, I…

* worked as a reader for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for the fourth year running.

* won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award, and am about to begin — quite belatedly, which was my choice — my programme of creative mentoring.

* spent two great weekends in York early in the year, and remembered how much I loved it. Going back soon!

* moved from a 0.7PTE contract at work to a 0.5PTE contract, as part of my “reclaim my life!” challenge. Less teaching hours, less office politics, more free time, less stress (also less money, obv, but that’s OK).

* moved into the third year of studying for my PhD in Creative Writing. Switched to a brand new thesis topic for the third time. Probably drove my supervisor crazy.

* delivered a lecture, “Making Poems, Writing Histories, Excavating Myths”, to the Melrose Literary Society.

* went vegan, and I love it.

* scored an amazing haul of SEVENTEEN antique typewriters on Freegle! (Still haven’t got round to starting restoration/reclamation work on most of them…)

* organised an all-female poetry slam to celebrate International Women’s Day 2012. It went really well!

* celebrated my 26th birthday with not one but TWO birthday parties: one a nom-tastic vegan dinner at Zeffirelli’s with my family, the other a fabulous few rounds of cocktails at The Dome with friends. Yay!

* attended the Scottish Women’s Aid Feminist Day School at the University of Edinburgh, and was inspired.

* was shortlisted for an Eric Gregory Award for a second time (first time was 2010. I forgot to enter in 2011).

* competed in Literary Death Match (Edinburgh, ep 4) AND FREAKING WELL WON!

* spent a week in beautiful Barcelona, and totally fell in love with the place.

* spent a weekend training to become a Scottish Women’s Aid Community Champion. Possibly the most empowering weekend of my life so far!

* performed in “Dear Glasgow,” directed by David Grieg, at the Traverse Theatre.

* read poems in a magical launderette in Durham!

* spent a long weekend in gorgeous Whitby — surely the most literary seaside resort there is? — with Lovely Boyfriend.

* was introduced to The West Wing, fell in love, and watched all seven series in the space of a few weeks.

* spent ten days in Greece while One Night Stanzas was on hiatus. Visited Athens, and spent a week in a one-room cold-water whitewashed cottage on the tiny island of Hydra. Here’s the view from our room! We went swimming at daybreak, befriended donkeys, made lots of delicious vegan food, and spent tons of time writing, writing, writing. It was great.

* taught Creative Writing at the Scottish Universities International Summer School for the third consecutive year. My wonderful students were Dan, Linda, Sarah, Joanna, Daniel and Jill. You guys were fab!

* had a poem shortlisted in the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Contest.

* went to see George Watsky on the London leg of his Nothing Like The First Time tour. Also spent a fabby weekend hanging out in London!

* organised and hosted One Night Stanzas presents Watskyx2 — definitely my biggest and scariest moment as a poetry promoter! But it went SO WELL, yay!

* went to a ton of great stuff at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, including Louise Welsh, Andrew Keen, Alice Oswald’s Memorial event (OMG!), Daniel Franklin launching Megachange, Billy Letford & Sean Borodale and Marina Warner (who I also saw at the International Festival, ’cause I’m a fangirl).

* read poems at Blackwells: Writers at the Fringe.

* attended a discussion that included the amazing Jean Kilbourne, personal superheroine of mine, and met her afterwards! Swoon!

* was employed as a creative facilitator with a local women’s community support group (details redacted!), and I am loving working with these amazing women as they read poems, share stories and unlock their creativity!

* joined the Shore Poets committee and became their blogging/tweeting/Facebooking person, among other things!

* survived root canal surgery!

* got tattooed (again).

* went to beautiful Paris for the weekend with Lovely Boyfriend to celebrate our two-year anniversary!

* helped run Scottish Women’s Aid’s I GET IT campaign, spreading positive messages about healthy relationships to young people aged between 16 and 25.

* wrote articles and reviews for The Skinny, xoJane (two, in fact), the Edinburgh Review (again, two! One’s online here) and The Scottish Review of Books.

* had three poems included in Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poetry from the UK

* spent an amazing day at the Maryhill Integration Network in Glasgow, meeting incredible, inspiring women, and being treated to a crash-course in filmmaking, a fashion show, a dance recital and a ton of delicious food!

Favourite photos from this year:

Vegan Noms (1)
Just one of the many millions of photos I took of delicious vegan breakfast/brunch food. I obtained this book upon becoming vegan and it changed my world!

Lovely Boyfriend
Lovely Boyfriend being lovely.

Hooping in the Meadows
I will remember summer 2012 as the summer of hooping in the park with my sister!

Rainbows over Tollcross
I love living in Tollcross — and my top floor, bay-window view! — so, so much.

My SUISS class of 2012
My fantabulous SUISS Class of 2012!

Watsky x2 performers
All the lovely performers from One Night Stanzas presents Watskyx2! Such talent!

Lit 101 students' work
Just when I’m feeling down and crap, along come my amazing students to make me feel inspired again.

Parisian adventures
♡ ♡ ♡

Insane family portrait...
A loopy family portrait.

Poetree
Visiting the jaw-droppingly gorgeous GiftED sculptures.

Glitterowl
& Christmas comes to ONS Towers!

It’s been a great year. I feel I am a million miles away from the place I was in this time last year — phew! I am also extremely excited about 2013 and all that it holds for me. I plan to finish my PhD, put together my first full-length poetry collection (at last!), get more tattoos (yeah!), and start work on a ton of exciting new projects. Wish me luck!

If you want to see what I got up to in 2008, 2009, 2010 or 2011, just click on each year!

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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!

In 2011, I…

Monday, January 16th, 2012

365/365: And Finally..

I’ve already written about how 2011 was a bit of a tricky year for me, and as you can probably tell from the date on this post, I almost abandoned the idea of doing my now-customary “In [year], I…” run-down. However, this is my fourth year of blogging at ONS, and not only have my year-end lists become a tradition in these parts, they’ve also prompted loads of other people to write their own. In spite of some wobbles during 2011, things did happen last year that deserve to be remembered and celebrated. And I stand by the idea that this kind of cataloguing exercise is useful for all sorts of reasons. You can see previous years’ lists here: 2008, 2009, 2010.

So. In 2011, I…

… saw in the New Year at a massive house party hosted by Lovely Boyfriend, and met pretty much everyone he’s ever known in his entire life at the same time. If you’re nervous about meeting your new partner’s friends, let me advise you: getting it all overwith in one night with lots of alcohol involved is a really good way to go!

… worked as a reader for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for the third year running.

… had my portrait, and my poem “The sailor”, featured in Chris Park and Thom Laycock’s “Dualism” project, which launched in Forfar in January and is now touring nationwide!

… went to see Daniel Watkins‘ brilliant debut pantomime, Robin The Hood (though I still insist they should have gone with the working title; The Hood, The Bad and The Ugly), and utterly loved it (in spite of the fact that I “got” very few of the inside, Northumberland-locals’ jokes)!

… dressed up as Susan Sto Helit for Lovely Boyfriend’s 26th birthday party, the theme of which was “characters from your childhood.” In her usual “EPIC WIN!” kind of style, my sister went as a Pacman ghost.

… inspired an entire slam! My oft-performed poem, “If You Don’t Want To Be In A Poem” lent its punchline to the Don’t Fuck A Poet slam, organised by Inky Fingers and won by Caitlin Cummings!

… survived the HMIe inspection at my place of work, which threw all of my colleagues into a (totally unnecessary) guddle for about five months. (It all went fine, obv.)

… placed fifth in the Scottish Slam Championship Finals at Aye! Write.

… turned 25, and held a fabulous afternoon tea party at my flat, surrounded myself with friends and ate a LOT of scones.

… worked on my first ever translation project, with the gorgeous Ellen Deckwitz and Alex Bengtsson, for City2Cities‘ “poetry tripletting” project.

… organised my first ever slam, the this collection “friendly” slam, which brought together page and stage poets and gave the poets themselves control over the scoring! Responses came in from all over. Just a few: McGuire // Andy Philip // Russell Jones

… was interviewed by The Observer about typewriters and poetry, and spent one mad March evening climbing trees and power-lifting heavy typewriters as part of my eventually-unused photoshoot with Murdo McLeod!

… had my author photo taken by the fabulous Chris Scott.

… represented Edinburgh at the inaugural City2Cities Festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands. This involved staying in a lush hotel, reading a lot of poems at a lot of gigs, meeting tons of truly awesome poetry-obsessed folk, staying in a lush loft, having a vintage typewriter gifted to me by a very sweet old man, joining in with a massive paper-bag-bursting flash mob (seriously), falling in love with Utrecht, hanging out with the aforementioned gorgeous Ellen and Alex, visiting Amsterdam for the first time, writing lots, and eating a lot of chips. The high point of my year, for sure!

… undertook a massive Muppet movie marathon with Lovely Boyfriend, seeing six consecutive movies in two days as part of Filmhouse’s Muppet Season!

… had my photo taken with Lovely Boyfriend by the lovely and talented Ms Sally Jubb, for her “Mimic” project

… saw, and adored, the Howl movie.

… produced, with Lovely Boyfriend, the chapbook “Starry Rhymes: 85 Years of Allen Ginsberg”, featuring 33 poets‘ responses to the great man’s works. We launched the pamphlet at a great event in the Bristo Hall at Forest Cafe, which Chris Scott very kindly photographed for us!

… judged the Swale Life Poetry Contest.

… passed my PhD second year review without a hitch!

… went on strike for the first time ever.

… dressed as “the sea” (meta!) for the 2011 ECA Underwater-themed Art School Revel. The motley band I attended with included an angler fish, a penguin, Ursula the Sea-Witch and two folk who dressed as “polution”. Needless to say, it was amazing.

… moved from rather-too-well-heeled Comely Bank, back to Tollcross, where I lived when I first moved to Edinburgh eight years ago. I’ve always loved Tollcross and pined for living here again. Hooray!

… marched in the Edinburgh Slutwalk, with Lovely Boyfriend at my side! I also gave my comment on the legitimacy of the event in several pieces for the Scotsman.

… spent July backpacking round the Pacific Northwest with Lovely Boyfriend, via the Greyhound bus network. Visited Vancouver, where we swam in the Pacific at Kitsilano Beach, found foodie heaven at the Granville Island Market, and I got a tattoo from the scarily excellent Hilary Dawson of Electro LadyLux! Stopped off in Victoria BC, where we attended SkaFest 2011, before heading to the tiny, super-rural San Juan Islands (mainly Orcas), where we slept in a forest cabin at the edge of the ocean. Then on to Seattle, then San Francisco, then Lake Tahoe, where we stayed with the lovely Lucy Florence. Finally we ended up in Portland, now one of my all-time favourite cities, where we ate amazing breakfasts and stayed at The Crystal Hotel & Ballroom, where every room is themed around a different classic song!

… taught for a second time at the Scottish Universities International Summer School, where my brilliant creative writing students were Alyss, Phil, Freesia, Tammy, Kate, Martina and Penny. Love you guys!

… sold my books and jewels at the Zorras Small Press & Zine Fair at Forest.

… was asked to judge the BBC Edinburgh Festival Fringe Poetry Slam at The Baby Bubble. Congrats to worthy winner Cat Brogan!

… edited a novel, for my former student, Vic. Buy “Rig Moves” here!

… defended my title at the University of Edinburgh LitSoc “Refresher” Slam 2011.

… won the StAnza / Inky Fingers Risk-a-Verse Slam, where I competed against, among others, Lovely Boyfriend!

… had my article, “A Different Beat: 50 Years of Counter-Culture in Edinburgh”, published by The Edinburgh Review.

… entered an article, “Hapless Straight Ladies: the dangerous semantics of pop feminism”, into the 2011/12 FWSA Essay Prize (still awaiting the result)!

… went on strike again.

… won the Mookychick 2011 Feminist Flash contest with “Male Privilege“!

Places I Read Poetry: Words Per Minute, Glasgow, January < -- video! // the StAnza 2011 preview event < -- photographed by the lovely Chris Scott // StAnza Festival’s “New Poets Showcase”, alongside the almost-too-brilliant Billy Letford // iPoetry, City2Cities Festival, Utrecht // Young Poets’ Society, City2Cities Festival, Utrecht // ACU’s DeadBeatSociety’s Music&Madness Night, April, Utrecht // Scottish Universities International Summerschool, August // Blind Poetics, August // SAVE THE FOREST “Reforestation” gig at 3rd Door, September // UoE LitSoc “Refresher” Slam, September // StAnza / Inky Fingers Risk-a-Verse Slam, St Andrews, October // Blind Poetics, October

Gigs in 2011: Broken Records, Liquid Rooms, January // King Creosote, Caves, February // Iron & Wine, HMV Picturehouse, March // Broken Records, Bristo Hall at Forest, April // Rocking for Heroes, HMV Picturehouse, November

What did YOU do in 2011?

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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!

(Photo credit)

Excitement, inspiration and EXCESSIVE CAPSLOCK USE. Hello 2012.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Hello 2012

Happy New Year, ONS readers!  Are there any of you left, I wonder?  2011 was a quiet year for One Night Stanzas; a bit of a muddled year.  2012 will be a better one.

As the long-time readers among you will know, ONS started life as a kind of informal how-to Q&A blog for young, inexperienced writers. At the time, I was running Read This Magazine and receiving endless emails from folk asking about all aspects of writing and publishing poetry. I got so tired of being an unpaid email-answering advice service that I stuck it all online instead. For those of you who’ve arrived since then, you can check out the best of ONS: Year One here.

It’s weird looking back at that Year One post and seeing how productive and organised I used to be. A post a day, every day? That seems like insanity, looking back. At around that time I finished my English Literature undergrad degree and went straight into a Creative Writing MSc — I was also working as a private tutor of English, Creative Writing and Drama and living in a tiny attic bedsit (I miss that flat — can I just say, roofgarden! — so much, even now!). I was still running a magazine, and started a small press soon after. I made jewellery and ran a vintage shop. And still had time to go to the pub. Where did that life go?

Fast-forward to 2011 and One Night Stanzas is a barely-updated wasteland. I pop up every so often to talk about the books I’m reading — usually only the ones that have made me feel strongly about something — and to post the odd Procrastination Station. My vintage shop has been “on hiatus” for months, Read This is no more now the editors have all graduated and scattered to the four winds. I gave up on the jewellery thing because I couldn’t handle breaking up typewriters, however broken beyond repair, any more. I have irate poets emailing me constantly, asking to be considered for the Featured Poet posts that haven’t existed for ages, and then sending me snotty call-back emails when I don’t reply. I still don’t reply. I’m reading for a PhD in Creative Writing but I’m barely putting pen to paper. I’m burned out doing a challenging, tiring, rewarding job that I used to love but have come to resent. My friends have all moved away — to different cities, countries, continents — and most of them don’t return my sporadic Facebook messages or texts any more. By the end of the year, I’ve been diagnosed with stress and insomnia: my body is in survival mode, shutting down bits of itself to try and keep the rest going. 2011 has felt like walking along a mineshaft: it’s got increasingly dark and narrow as I’ve gone along; I lost the coal seam but just kept wandering.

Thankfully, I haven’t wandered far enough that I can’t find a way to climb back out again. I feel like I’ve woken up, and looking in the mirror I’m pretty shocked to find that I’ve turned into one of those people who lives to work, who has become their job and can’t find the energy to even think about anything else. A person who gets up at 6am, goes to work, gets home by 6pm and collapses in front of the TV, then goes to sleep… and I never even noticed it happening.

So no more. I don’t care what everyone else thinks of New Year’s Resolutions: I make them. Usually in a kind of sneaky, abstract way. This year I am only making one:

IN 2012, I AM GOING TO RECLAIM MY LIFE.

One Night Stanzas is coming back, with a vengeance. It’s not going to be a writing advice blog again, nor is it going to continue to be the Serious Poetry and Writing blog I tried to turn it into more recently. It’s just going to be MY blog, and I’m going to fill it with whatever I fancy. So I’m guessing you should brace yourself for owls, tea, typewriters, tattoos, cute animals, cool Youtube videos… and some poetry. If you want serious ruminations on the latest petty poetry squabbles (e.g. OMG your anthology sucks and you’re clearly STOOPID!), or if you want your collection to be reviewed by someone who definitely won’t use excessive CAPSLOCK and the word “awesome,” then you should probably go elsewhere. But if you fancy sticking around and watching while I try to re-inject some positive, fun, POETIC energy into my life, while I remember what it means to get properly excited and inspired again, then fantastic. You rock. Watch this space.

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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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Things I’m Reading Thursday #25: to read in 2011

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Reminder / Scatter-brained [43/365]
Not stuff I am reading right now (because honestly, you just don’t want to know…), but stuff on my to-read list for 2011…

Fiction

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Suzanna Clarke
I really should have read this book before. It ticks all my usual boxes — I love magic realism, I love literary pastiche and I love anything that Neil Gaiman loves. However, this one kind of passed me by when it first appeared — I remember seeing it in the window of every Waterstones in the land, but I didn’t really pay attention. Happily, The Lovely Boyfriend not only informed me of its fabulousness, but was good enough to buy me a beautiful edition of it (black-edged pages, oh my goodness) for Christmas. I’m just trying to ignore the many times I’ve heard it referred to as “Harry Potter for grownups”.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman
I’ve been excited to read this book since before it was published. No, I haven’t read the His Dark Materials books and yes, I know they’re freaking amazing and my life has been a waste thus far for not reading them. They too have been on the to-read list since forever, but… I just can’t get that wound up about them, to be honest. This book, on the other hand, is a totally different story. I waited very impatiently for it to come out in paperback (not that I don’t like hardbacks, you just can’t crease the spines as easily, and everyone knows I like a book to look lived in), and now I’m having to wait very impatiently to have the time to read it. If the bun-fight in this book’s Amazon reviews is anything to go by, it’s going to be very interesting indeed…

Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
If you’ve been here any length of time you’ll know that I am a massive Atwood fangirl, and have been for a long time (how big a fangirl I hear you ask? The other night I found myself defending the idea of, in the dim and distant future, potentially naming my first son Atwood. That big). I wrote my Higher English personal study paper on Lady Oracle, and my Advanced Higher English dissertation on The Blind Assassin. I am now writing a PhD thesis, the cornerstone of which is Atwood’s Negotiating With The Dead lectures. I really, really love me some Margaret Atwood. And I am a very lucky lady, because for Christmas this year I was gifted beautiful hardback editions of both these books — one of which was also signed and from a limited run of 1000 copies. Whether I can actually bring myself to pick these books up and sully their gorgeousness by reading them remains to be seen, but I have been wanting to read both for a very long time.

Poetry

Hard Ground by Michael O’ Brien and Tom Waits
Cue more fangirling: there are not words for how much I love Tom Waits. When I heard he was bringing out a poetry collection, I immediately assumed it must be a lie — for years Waits has shunned the title “poet”, describing it as “a dangerous word” and refusing to acknowledge that tracks like the fantastic 9th and Hennepin are in fact, more spoken word than song. However, here it is — a book that contains poems written by Tom Waits. It’s not available until March, but naturally, my copy is already pre-ordered, and I am counting down the days. I’m very interested to see if the man is as much of a genius on paper as he is elsewhere…

Here Comes The Night by Alan Gillis
I had a really, really good Christmas on the books front, as you’ve probably already gathered. Also in my Christmas stocking this year was Alan Gillis’ latest collection, which looks even weirder and more wonderful than the last two. I’m possibly a tad biased here, because Alan is my PhD supervisor, but he’s also a fabulous poet and moreover, a fabulous bloke. His poems are genuinely unique — I have never come across anything quite like them. They’re also brilliant — so often reading Alan’s work I find myself thinking “I wish I’d thought of that first.” I’m a particular fan of his second collection, Hawks and Doves, which was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize a couple of years back, so I’m very excited to read this follow-up.

Non-fiction

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women by Susan Faludi
Of late, I have become very, very interested in feminism. Writing a PhD about contemporary female writers will do that to you, it seems — I never wanted to write about feminist theory, but it kind of became necessary, and then after a while it became really, really interesting, and then before I knew it, it had kind of changed the entire direction of my thesis. I’m now an avid reader of numerous feminist blogs — which I generally prefer to books on the subject, as they’re more immediate and less absolute — including Shakesville (which you’ve doubtless seen me praise to the skies here before), Feminisnt and Tiger Beatdown (NB: all potentially NSFW), and it’s become a topic that I regularly trip out in order to bore people at house parties. Backlash is one of those books that’s still talked about and referred to constantly, in spite of its age — it really is a definitive text on the subject, it seems. I’ve managed to acquire a very beautiful shocking pink paperback edition and its violent pink and black cover yells at me every time I look at my bookshelf. Time to read it already, methinks.

Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism by Natasha Walter
A newer book, this, but one that’s already being touted as definitive and very important. Less a specifically feminist book and more a general social commentary (it seems), Walter is interested specifically in the way traditional female gender roles have been re-packaged in order to make women look empowered — the new ways in which women are pressured and pigeonholed and the repurcussions of this process on girls and young women. Having recently discovered and been blown away by Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Us Softly III: Advertising’s Image of Women lectures, I am very keen to read more on the subject. I know this book is hot property right now, so if anyone else has read it I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts!

What are you hoping to read in 2011?

(Photo by cathdrwg)

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Procrastination Station #59: Happy 2010!

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Happy 2010 to all my readers! I can’t believe we’re already ushering in a new decade — it feels like two minutes ago that my 13-year-old self brought in the new millennium… what happened? I hope the Noughties have been as action-packed and fulfilling for all of you as they have been for me. Now! It’s been ages since I did a Procrastination Station post, so without further ado… Happy New Year!

I LOVE this ever-expanding video series in which people on the street answer the question “What is poetry?”

Terrible poetry jokes from McSweeney’s.

It’s ages ago now, but I loved the story of the phone box library.

A fab SPL podcast with one third of the awesome Edinburgh-based Chemical Poets.

Will pointed me in the direction of these two great poems by Kim Addonizio — thanks!

Thanks too to Bram (another Chemical Poet) who recently introduced me to Ross Sutherland — here’s one of his poems, originally posted at peony moon.

Recently rejected?

The new issue of Sparkbright is out!

Hey editors — go easy on young poets! Here’s why!

I really loved this ImprovEverywhere stunt!

37 things you should never apologise for, and why. Sound advice.

A brief note on the importance of proofreading from the hilarious Rejectionist.

& what ONS readers/former Featured Poets/friends have been up to recently!: Incredible new work from Heather Bell // Scene setting with McGuire // Matt Haigh at a handful of stones // New from Alex Williamson // Open house at Swiss’ place // Regina Green featured at Escape Into Life // A cool cut-up from Stephen Nelson // A seasonal poem from Tom Rendell at a handful of stones

All best for 2010! Have a great New Year weekend!

(Photo by Mukumbura)

Don’t forget to visit The Read This Store, and its sister store, Edinburgh Vintage!

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