Posts Tagged ‘xojane’

Procrastination Station #137

Friday, November 14th, 2014

87/365: The Hippest
(Photo credit)

If you click nothing else in this post, click this: as you already know, the legendary Amelia’s Magazine is trying to get back into print for their 10th anniversary. Please please please please please help by backing the Kickstarter!

“You can only do so much in a short-form poetry review, and it’s hard enough to identify a book’s aesthetic ambitions at all, let alone in 400 words. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest this might create a feedback loop in which more experienced poets learn exactly what kind of poetry wins prizes, swooning Guardian reviews and another book deal. Slam poetry in North America has such rigid means of understanding creative success it actively stifles work that doesn’t fit the template, and mainstream UK poetry seems to be doing likewise.”

My ol’ mate Dave Coates was interviewed by Sabotage and talked SO MUCH SENSE.

…and if you liked that, you’ll like this:

Despite the handful of decent collections nominated for the TS Eliot prize this year, it is a deeply conservative shortlist, and Connolly is right to point out the ludicrous situation in which John Burnside can step out as a PBS selector long enough to be selected then step right back in. It would be laughable if it wasn’t a ticket to a 1 in 10 chance at twenty grand in a notoriously unlucrative genre.

Dave again, this time at his own blog, reflecting on his reviewing work so far.

“A (now former) friend of mine who was a bookie and rather the drinker was convinced I’d based the main character in a short story of mine (‘Pocket’) on him—to the point that we got into a bit of a drunken shouting match, most of it him repeatedly demanding that I give him (in cash, right then) at least half of my ’royalties.’ To which I replied, ‘Fine, bro. They gave me two contributor copies—take one of them off that shelf’.”

I loved this: You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This [Work of Fiction] Is About You.

Want to see inside the world’s smallest at-home library? Of course you do.

Barack Obama’s second inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, is basically the coolest guy ever.

Whether or not you are conscious of it, you are always looking for an excuse to stop reading a poem and move on to another poem or to do something else entirely. Resist this urge as much as possible. Think of it as a Buddhist regards a pesky mosquito. The mosquito, like the poem, may be irritating, but it’s not going to kill you to brave it for a little while longer.

Twenty strategies for reading poems.

What’s your favourite movie? There’s a book for that.

I also like to finish a book once I’ve started but hey, no need to be a dick about it.

It’s hard to talk in a clear-headed way about genre. Almost everyone can agree that, over the past few years, the rise of the young-adult genre has highlighted a big change in book culture. For reasons that aren’t fully explicable (Netflix? Tumblr? Kindles? Postmodernism?), it’s no longer taken for granted that important novels must be, in some sense, above, beyond, or “meta” about their genre. A process of genrefication is occurring.

This in-depth article on ‘genre’ vs ‘literary’ is really worth reading.

Meanwhile, this guy is a fluff-piece-writing jerk who wants to tell you where you can and cannot read books. Go and pour your pint over him in the comments.

Fancy-ass book editors being forced to give up their corner offices? It’s a hard life, eh?

I know, you’re sick of celebrity memoirs, you’re sick of female celebrities talking about feminism, blah blah blah. Well, that’s just fine because Poehler’s book is so much more than that. Poehler is the only person in the world other than Nora Ephron who can be funny about divorce (and she is so funny about divorce), and she is definitely the only person in the world from whom I will accept sex tips (and her sex tips are great). But most of all, she’s super smart about what she calls “women-on-women violence” (when women are mean to one another), which is always an expression of female self-loathing. Poehler knows that she’s good at what she does, but she’s also an insecure human being, and what she does in this book is show how to balance those insecurities with self-respect. When Poehler self-deprecates, she doesn’t do it in a charming, cutesy-wootsy way, but rather an honest way, and then counters it with some self-pride and self-awareness.

Just your regular reminder: Amy Poehler is a total badass.

Who out there thinks that NaNoWriMo never results in any good writing? Well, here are a bunch of NaNoWriMo novels that got published!

Some of these tips on entering writing contests surprised me — have a look!

Joyce and Woolf were writers who transformed the quicksilver of consciousness into paper and ink. To accomplish this, they sent characters on walks about town. As Mrs. Dalloway walks, she does not merely perceive the city around her. Rather, she dips in and out of her past, remolding London into a highly textured mental landscape, “making it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh.”

Walking & writing, writing & walking.

Looking through old bookmarks I found this cool book-like dress!

Is Mary Oliver not perfect? Mary Oliver is perfect.

Or consider the way that Kelman uses the word “but”: “One thing I’m finding but it makes it a wee bit easier getting a turn.” The man is saying that, although he dislikes having a dog tag along with him, he has found that it helps to bring in money. So the sentence, written out formally, would be something like: “One thing I’m finding is that it makes it a little easier to get a turn.” In the formal version, though, the musical pitching of “but” and “bit” disappears, as does the sentence’s weird, hopping rhythm, where the unexpected incursion of “but” forces a caesura.

This man a) has clearly never heard anyone speaking Scots b) does not know what the heck he’s on about and c) is a member of the very literary elite Kelman rails against. All very entertaining!

Authors who got their first big break after age 50. So don’t panic!

Typewriters and their humans. Thank you to the zillion people who brought this to my attention!

The cornerstone of my comedy is to make people laugh and examine social issues with the goal of improvement. Change doesn’t happen overnight. We all know this. There is a dialogue that needs to continue amongst both men and women on how to improve how we interact with each other in this day and age. What this video going viral did is it opened up that conversation to the heart of the issue, “Why do men still feel that women are to be the proud receptors of their advances/greetings/compliments at all times?”

Amanda Seales: my new hero.

Here’s Twinkle Baroo the greyhound enjoying the first frost of the year. You’re welcome!

Haha, Lovely Boyfriend thought this was real! (Worth watching the Making Of, btw.)

What it’s like to work with cats. (Related: proof that cats are master thieves.)

Have a great weekend!


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

I wrote some stuff you might like to read.

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

My review of Kerry Hardie

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

The UFOlogists podcast

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


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

Happy holidays!


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

Procrastination Station #117

Friday, December 7th, 2012

snowflake teacup & saucer

Procrastination Station’s been taking a break these past couple of weeks, so here’s a bumper edition of what I’ve been loving online lately!

Embarrassing admission: I never knew E Nesbit was a woman. I also love this poem of hers.

Speaking of poems by women, there’ve been some fantastic ones at the Poetry Foundation recently! Thanks Chris for alerting me to this one by Leigh Stein, and to Freesia for sending me in the direction of Peanut Butter by Eileen Myles. This one by Bernadette Mayer is pretty cool, too!

Are you a Flannery O’Connor fan? If you’re also patient enough to let this F O’C soundboard load, it will MAKE YOUR DAY.

The idea that there is only one right way of doing English – and everyone else is doing it wrong – is inherently flawed. And by “flawed” I mean illogical, elitist and even oppressive. Judgements about what counts as “right”, “good” and “correct” in writing and grammar always – ALWAYS – align with characteristics of the dialects spoken by privileged, mostly wealthy, mostly white people. We make these judgements based on learned biases, as well as a certain emotional attachment to our own way of doing things. But when people study dialects in an objective, scientific way (which is what cunning linguists actually do), they find that low-prestige dialects, such as African-American Vernacular English or Cockney English, have fully-formed grammar rules of their own that make just as much sense as any others. They are perfectly valid and functional forms of communication used by millions of people. The only difference is that they don’t have people running around telling everyone else to do it their way.

This piece on literary privilege is great (and I’m totally a still-recovering grammar Nazi).

This ‘how good is your pronounciation?’ test has been doing the rounds of the internetz forever, but the other day I tried actually reading the whole poem aloud. “Loth” caught me out!

One of my poems from The Mermaid and the Sailors was graciously published by Writers for Libraries. It’s a great project and you should definitely check it out.

The lovely Mandy is featuring my weird and wonderful sister and her wacky advent creations at her blog right now!

If you live in Scotland you should absolutely take this survey, and be part of the Equality Network’s consultation on how to make our fine country better for LGBT*QI folks.

Melissa McEwan is one of my all-time favourite bloggers, and this is a great interview with her.

Oh, I’m sorry, thin people, for exercising in your gleaming anti-fatness temple, but I’ll wear these baggy clothes and stay away from the popular machines so I don’t inconvenience the real exercisers.

Lindy West is awesome. I loved this article of hers on fat people going to the gym. And in related news, the equally awesome Lesley Kinzel writes about how truly terrible shapewear is.

I now want to write EVERYTHING in this font! (Thanks Mandy!)

20 Things Overachievers Like struck a bit too much of a chord with me… (except for the unpaid internship part, because I can’t afford that. Oh, and the working out.)

…and speaking of lists, The 21 Most Awkward Situations In History is really rather amusing.

Things I love: tea, typewriters, and cardigans.

Have you guys seen Barack Obama Being Adorable With Adorable Children? Prepare to smile.

& speaking of which… TERRAPIN RESCUE!

OK, I’ll be honest: I’ve watched this video about ten times. This woman FASCINATES me. Not just because she’s super super hot, has amazing tattoos and basically the cutest laugh-face ever, but also because of what she’s doing with her modelling and her philosophies thereof. I DEFY YOU NOT TO FALL IN LOVE WITH HER JUST A LITTLE BIT.

A little bit of idealism to brighten your day — and I love the narrator’s voice!

This week I went to see the GiftED sculptures on the last leg of their Scotland tour. Find out more in this lovely short film about ‘em!

Paper Sculptures GIFTED Tour 2012 from Blue Iris Films on Vimeo.

When the wonderful Watsky came to Edinburgh for the Watskyx2 gig I hosted, the Scottish Book Trust asked him to read a poem for them. It’s finally online!

I love the Big Bang Theory and want to be Amy Farrah-Fowler’s best friend. Therefore it stands to reason that I love this flashmob the cast and crew did recently!

& finally — have you watched Kilroy Loops yet? TRIPPY AND HILARIOUS.

Have a great weekend!


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

Students! Graduates! Show what you owe!

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Edinburgh University: McEwan Hall
My alma mater^. (Photo credit)

I was really interested in – and shocked by – this recent xoJane article in which young folks across the pond share the extent of their debts, and talk a little about how they accumulated them. I think that encouraging discussion about this issue is really important – too many students shoulder too much debt in this day and age, and too many struggle alone without any real idea of how to deal with the massive financial responsibilities they’re lumbered with. The article showed me that the UK clearly has less of a student debt problem than the US – but with cuts to service provision (especially in FE) coupled with massive fee hikes (thanks, Dave and George, Alex and Mike!), that may be set to change.

The xoJane article encourages other young people to get in on the conversation and share their own debt, be it the result of student loans or personal purchases… so here goes.

Edinburgh McEwan Hall
I graduated here^! (Photo credit)

My MA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh was barely government funded at all. As a Scottish student, I was fees-free and graduate-endowment-free – something I am eternally grateful to the devolved Scottish government for. I still needed to pay my living costs – including buying a shit ton of books as I astutely picked a little-taken-up English Literature & Scottish Literature joint honours – so naturally, I applied for a student loan. My parents’ joint income was assessed, and found to be within the “maximum” threshold, meaning that my loan would be in the “minimum” threshold (NB: though my ‘rents have a decent standard of living, they are by no means Lord and Lady Ponsonby-Smythe). That meant that in my first year, I got roughly £700 on loan. That’s for the whole year.
As a result, I worked my butt off to earn money to survive. In term-time I had a weeknight job as a housekeeper and nanny to a ten-year-old boy. This was hard work, and the lady of the house was pretty unpleasant to me. But I definitely bonded with the boy I was looking after, and the job kept me really, really fit – entertaining a sport-crazy ten year old and cleaning a posh Edinburgh townhouse from top to bottom? Better than dieting, trust me.

The nanny job ran out in the Spring, and I started working for a market research call centre that some of my flatmates did ad-hoc shifts for. The work was infrequent and the pay was horrendous, but it was that rare thing: an easy-going call centre. You could wear whatever you liked, take breaks whenever you wanted, and there were only targets to meet on certain projects. Over the summer I also signed on to a temp agency and was immediately allocated permanent, near-full-time work as a legal secretary (how times have changed!). I hated every minute, but it was food money.

For the final three years of my degree my parents were supporting two kids at Uni – my sister headed to study in England the year after I started. My loan was oh-so-generously upped by about £200 in response to this. During this time I still worked way over the 15 hours per week recommended by the University. I held down a job as a telephonist for the local authority’s Social Care department, took on the odd project at the call centre, and did at least ten hours a week of freelance one-to-one tutoring in English, Creative Writing and Drama. I also lived in dirt-cheap accommodation that was probably, according to government guidelines about square footage per person, ‘overcrowded.’ (I didn’t care. After a disastrous attempt to live in a conventional student flat, I loved both the dirt-cheap places I ended up in.)

George Square Theatre
The lovely library^. (Photo credit)

Things picked up after my undergrad, but I was lucky – I just about squeaked into postgraduate employment as the heavy door of recession was closing on the UK economy. I started teaching Higher English at Edinburgh’s Telford College, covering a staff member who was off on long-term sick leave. The job paid more per hour than I’d ever dreamed of in my house-cleaning, ten-year-old-wrangling, cold-calling days, but it was constantly in jeopardy – the staff member I was covering might come back any day and take her classes back. Happily, I got more hours, and then an actual real contract, and then permanency. At the same time as this job appeared, I moved into a Masters in Creative Writing, still at the University of Edinburgh. I was awarded a scholarship for my Masters that covered all my fees. Lucky, lucky, lucky. I am still so grateful to the Universe for handing me this stuff.

I graduated from my Masters in the midst of a pretty hectic and quite dark time for my mental health, which was probably what accounted for the borderline-crazy decision to go straight into a full-time PhD (still at the University of Edinburgh) without a break. Thanks to my funk, I didn’t do much in the way of funding applications (the few I did fill out were summarily rejected anyway. It’s creative writing, after all). What I did do was have a great conversation with my parents, during which they gave me the choice: we’ll pay for your some-day wedding, or we’ll pay for your PhD. You pick. It was a total no brainer.

I’m now nearing the end of my PhD and – real-time read out!—have the following debts:

Student loan: roughly £3,000. Thanks to my lovely job, I’ve already started paying it back.
Personal debt: My PhD has cost £3,000 per year. In spite of our agreement, I do still feel like I owe my parents this £9,000 – if not more, in fact, as they always stepped in to help me out whenever I was stuck during my undergrad years. I also have credit card debt of roughly £1,200. This has just gradually crept up and up over the years, but I am managing it.
Total debt: £13,200

McEwan Hall + Kebab Mahal
Thank you, beautiful Edinburgh^. (Photo credit)

This is absolutely nothing – certainly compared to some of the people at xoJane and to some of my peers. My sister went to an English university and as a result, has more debt than this solely from her undergrad degree. I have peers who graduated at the same time as me, or just after, who still haven’t found full time or permanent employment. Over in the xoJane comments there are a lot of people giving thanks for their situation, and I definitely need to get in on that act. First, and most importantly, I am so utterly grateful to my parents for that amazing ‘wedding or PhD?’ conversation (I mean, really, is there even a choice there?!), for always being there to help me out with life’s scary gas bill moments, and for always trusting my vision, even when I came up with ideas like “I’m going to study for eight consecutive years without stopping!” I also have to thank Scotland for being a fantastic place to study during the mid-naughties. Particularly I have to thank Edinburgh, for being a tiny, walkable city with mega-cheap housing options (if you’re willing to live in a hippie commune with a mad, deaf cat!) and plenty of student-friendly cafes, thrift stores and free outdoor activities! I have to thank the friends and flatmates who’ve come and gone over the years… and my employer. Thanks, no-longer-Telford. I can has proper grown up job!

So. What do YOU owe…?


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