Friday, 27 December 2019
When you get a poem (or any piece of work) accepted for publication it is great to have someone congratulating you on the achievement. Even better is when someone actually takes the time to say something positive about the work itself, and I wish that happened more - for everyone, I mean, not just for me. Sometimes on Twitter people will share poems or other pieces of work they have found and liked and I do that as much as I can (with the constant fear of sounding ingratiating) - because I know how important it is for me to feel I've connected with someone, and if I've found something I really like I want others to find it too.The poetry community is, on the whole, very supportive, but I wish it were broader.
For me, the most positive experience this year has been the feedback on my self-published book 'You can see it from here' - combining photos and words (poems) about Sheppey, where I live. People have actually taken the trouble to approach me, or tweet me, to tell me they liked it, or were moved by those words, or loved that particular picture. I appreciate that so much.
It sounds really needy when I say it like that - but we want that feedback, don't we (well, good feedback obviously)? Otherwise, why put it out there in the first place? We need to connect, to feel we've been seen, that someone out there gets it/gets you.
It was also really useful for me to get some professional feedback on my work this year. I learnt a lot about what was working, what wasn't working and why. That kind of constructive criticism (and I stress constructive) is so important. Because otherwise, if you're just submitting poems, all you're usually getting is accepted/rejected. An individual response on that basis is subjective. Of course it is. We all like different things, we see things differently, or maybe it wasn't the right fit, or maybe the poem is just terrible, but you rarely get to know, so you can't learn. I do, however, appreciate that it would be near impossible for poetry publishers to give that kind of feedback. That's why we need others.
I want to share poems and ideas about poetry with more people. I have just set up a new group on Sheppey (under the auspices of the Isle of Sheppey U3A) to look at poetry in new ways. It will be online, at least initially, and starts in the New Year. The members of the group do not call themselves poets, but all are interested in poetry - reading it, discussing it, writing it, looking at new ways of exploring it. I hope we can share and learn and enjoy new ideas and poetry.