Saturday, 16 April 2011

A Very Nice Surprise!

I never thought, when I decided to enter the Straid Poetry Collection awards back in February, that I would actually be a winner.  One gets so used to rejections - particularly in poetry - sending off manuscripts into a void is routine, editors rarely even acknowledge them.   For me, sending work out is a useful way of providing a deadline - I can't seem to finish anything properly without one.  February the 28th was the deadline for this award;  such a long time ago I'd completely put it out of my mind.  So, it was with a degree of disbelief that I answered my mobile on Thursday night to hear a voice telling me that I was one of the three selected poets.  Afterwards, when I put down the phone, Neil said 'Are you sure you're not just short-listed?'  and I really did go to bed wondering if I'd heard correctly.  But after the second phone call next morning to discuss contracts (contracts!!) the blissful feeling of an about-to-be published poet took over.   The two other poets are Martin Malone and Suzanne Ehrhardt - both much published poets - Suzanne was one of the Chatto New Poets and Martin has an impressive record of publication and readings.  I couldn't find websites to link into, but there's plenty  about them on the web.

Putting a poetry collection together is a difficult business.  Poet Pascale Petit runs courses on it and I wish that I'd been able to go to one.  How do you decide what to put in?   Do you compile it chronologically?  Or thematically?  And if the  latter, what is going to be the theme?


I spent two weeks with an assortment of poems on the dining table, arranging, re-arranging, seeing what sat comfortably next to what, deciding which poems fitted and which ones didn't.  At first I put out what I thought were my best poems, but it was a wierd assortment.  So I began to think about what subjects I'd written on most.  Travel seemed to come up quite a lot, then other kinds of journeys, such as relationships.  So the collection began to take the shape of a travelogue with all the people I'd met, or who had been important to me in there too.   The title gave me a lot of trouble - I know they have to be eye grabbing.  In the end I used the poem I wrote in Wellington last August  when I waved Neil off to Cambodia.  'Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21'.    Then I pressed 'send' on the email toolbar, crossed my fingers, and forgot.

Thank you Templar Poetry!

8 comments:

  1. Congratulations to YOU!!! That's so fantastic.

    And "Not Saying Good-bye at Gate 21" is one of the most fabulous titles I have ever heard!

    Oh, I'm so excited for you. Poetry is a really hard genre to break into so major kudo's to you.

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  2. That's terrific news - well done! What a lovely discovery!

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  3. Congratulations - sounds like it might be time for a celebratory lunch.

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  4. Congrats, Kathleen! 'About-to-published poet' has a wonderful ring to it!

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  5. Wonderful news!
    You must be feeling on top of the world!
    Well done you!

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  6. That's excellent, Kathy - I am looking forward to being able to read this collection.

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  7. Congratulations! That's fantastic.

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