How to be a Poet

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I received my contributor’s copy of what I suspect will be a very important book — for me, surely — and perhaps for others. How to be a Poet strikes me as not only “a twenty-first century guide to writing well”, but also a guide to living well as a writer.

I also quite like the alternative title proposed in the introduction: “A Poem-Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy.” After all, we contain multitudes.

It features the wisdom of two of my favourite poetry people: Jo Bell and Jane Commane, interspersed with excellent guest contributions by Mona Arshi, Jonathan Davidson, Clive Birnie, and many other well-known names in UK poetry. I thought I’d spend a moment or two thumbing through it on the couch when it arrived. I couldn’t put it down.

My own essay represents a manifesto of sorts — again, not about how to write, but how to be as a writer in this mad, mad world. It is called “Making Peace with Poetry”.

If you’re writing poems, or have secretly wanted to, know someone who writes, or are just curious to lift the curtain on the writing life — I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

The book is available from Nine Arches Press, with options for international shipping.

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Poem in Bare Fiction 9

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I received my contributor’s copy of Bare Fiction 9 today.

I love the format of this magazine — broad, art deco; it even smells nice. Inside, stunning poems by some familiar names — Mary Jean Chan, who will read for Transatlantic Poetry this summer; three corkers by Jane Commane; and two from Abegail Morley, on whom I can always count for a poem that tops and tails me. Many others remain for me (excitedly) to discover.

Another plus of this periodical is that you can get it however you like. You can pick up your literary fix — digital or physical, single or subscription — on the Bare Fiction website.

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Letting the Robin out of the Bag

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Robin Concrete PoemI have had poems coerced into handmade paper via letterpress printing techniques, laser printed on broadsides sheets, and even hung like advertisements in shop windows. I am really excited, though, to have a poem on a tote bag.

Not just any tote bag — a concrete interpretation of my poem “Robin”, beautifully designed by Jane Commane, on a classy natural canvas bag. It comes free with a subscription to the Nine Arches Poetry Book Club — itself an excellent idea that gets you six fine single-author poetry collections hot off the press, discounts on other books, and special invitations. Gift wrap available. Really, I hope they made enough bags!

I also like the idea that using this tote instead of a plastic bag might help a scruffy robin survive the long winter of our global mass-consumption.

As they say in the UK: “Bagsy!” And in my native California: “Totes amazeballs!” You get the idea. I’m exited.

Bag in splendour next to fine poetry books
Bag your six books

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