2014

#1 – May 2014

This is my first newsletter. I intend to publish one newsletter per month, around the beginning of each month. The purpose of this newsletter is to let you know about what’s happening with my poetry. This will include what I’m working on, poems that have been accepted for publication and what I’m reading. I’ll also include links or conferences that may be of interest to you.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions about this newsletter.

The Writers’ Institute, Madison, Wisconsin

In early April, I went to a great conference, Writers’ Institute, at Madison, Wisconsin. It was my first writers’ conference. Though a general writers’ meeting, there were two specific poetry sessions. There was also a lot of information about publishing, including self-publishing. I met a lot of great people, and left feeling inspired. In fact, I was inspired to create a number of small projects, including this newsletter.

I’ve also started working on another project, which focuses on budget travel. Over the last three years, I’ve been travelling extensively through Greece and Turkey with my partner, Lisa, and have found many ways to save. I hope that this guide will show others that travel on a budget does not necessarily mean bare minimum comfort. My travel experiences have provided me with inspiration and time to focus on my poetry. I’ll let you know about the progress of this project as I go.

Publishing News

In April, I was published in an online journal called Every Writer. I submitted a poem, Stillness, and within two days was published! I found the journal through Duotrope, which I have subscribed to this year.

For those of you that don’t know, Duotrope is a writers’ resource, which assist writers to find markets for their work. It saves you a lot of time, so you can focus on your writing!

#2 – June 2014

Poets in Turkey

Early this month, I visited the city of Unye in Turkey. The Sufi poet, Yunus Emre, lived here, among other places. It is claimed that Emre’s tomb is in Unye. However, up to as many as eight or nine places in Turkey claim the same. Some of Emre’s poems can be found at Poetry Chaikhana, a site I read regularly.

Emre was a contemporary of Rumi, the famous Sufi poet. Rumi is also known as ‘Mevlana’ throughout Turkey, which roughly translates as ‘our guide ‘. Visiting Unye, I didn’t have the same feelings and inspiration that I felt when I visited Konya (where Rumi is buried), but Unye, on the Black Sea, is worth a look.

If you do visit Konya, try to visit on a Saturday, as there is a Sufi ceremony of whirling dervishes at the Mevlana Cultural Centre. When I visited, I was lucky enough to discover that, prior to the free performance, there is usually an hour lecture about Rumi. You may have difficulty finding out about this, so turn up early, just in case.

My Latest Read

Currently, I am enjoying reading the poetry of Hannah Stephenson. I found her through a journal, Compose. You can find Hannah’s website at The Storialist. She puts up 5 posts a week. I’ve started reading through her backlog too, which includes over five years of her poetry posts. It’s been good to see how her writing has changed over time.

Publishing News

This month, I haven’t had anything published. I’ve had 2 rejections and am still waiting on responses from two other journals. (Just letting you know, as it’s good to know what happens out there in the real world!) I am always looking for places that would suit my work! I always read at least one issue of a journal, before I decide to submit my poetry.

#3 – July 2014

Travel

I’ve just returned home after 3 months of travel – a month in the US and two months in Turkey. I didn’t write many new poems this trip, as I decided to focus on editing some of my older poems. Although it was challenging, it was good to discover that I could work and travel simultaneously. I hope to write some travel-inspired poetry soon as I settle back into my normal routine at home. I plan to put together my first collection of poetry in the near future.

Another Course

I’ve studied 3 great online poetry courses in the last few years. This month, I’ll be doing another one. My new course is called ‘Magical Realist Poetry’. Magical realism is where magical elements are used in normal settings. For example, a tree might grow arms, or a rabbit might fly. I found this course on a poetry site in the US, called The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative. The course costs US$85. More on this next month.

Publishing News

This month, I’ve submitted to a few journals, including Word Riot, Red River Review and Red Paint Hill. As for the poems I edited while travelling, I will leave them to rest, then read them again in a short while to see if they are ready for publication.

#4 – August 2014

Poets

Late last month, I met writer Tom Stone in Los Angeles. Tom lived in Greece for many years. He has written several books about Greece, which focus on travel and mythology. He has also written a wonderful memoir about living in Greece, particularly on the island of Patmos, called The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir. He ends his memoir with the famous Cavafy poem Ithaca. Every time I read it I am moved.

Apart from having a great afternoon with him, Tom told me of an American poet, Robert Lax, that he met in Kalymnos. Kalymnos is a nearby island to Patmos. Tom dedicates his memoir to Robert Lax, as well as the people of Patmos.

Since hearing about Robert Lax, I have read some of his poems. The few poems I have read are strong, but even stronger for me is a short article I read about him. You can find this here.

Course

The course I did this month on Magical Realist Poetry has been great. It has been positive on three levels. I have learned about new ways of writing, I have been challenged to start and finish a poem in a week (though this is not compulsory in this course), and I have received some great feedback that in turn challenges me to improve my piece. Self-discipline is a must to get the most out of online courses, but I definitely recommend them. This is my fourth, and I believe my poetry has improved because of them.

My Latest Read

I have been reading lots of good stuff, mostly online journals. I have also enjoyed reading the poetry of the Mediterranean, on a site called mediterranean poetry. I have also read Monolithos, by Jack Gilbert. He is another American poet who lived in Greece. He was recommended to me by a poetry teacher, Sarah Holland-Batt, after she read one of my poems. Her poem, The Idea of Mountain, is one of favourites.

#5 – September 2014

Critique Group

Last month, I joined an online critique group called Scribophile. I only came across it recently, after searching for an online critique group. It’s been around for a while, so some of you may be familiar with it.

Scribophile is a closed site, which means you need to join (it’s free) to view and comment on other people’s work. A variety of genres are included on the site, such as poetry, novels and short stories. You may read and/or critique works from any of these genres.

How does it work? It’s simple. Just critique other people’s work and you earn ‘karma points’. Get enough points and you can post your own work. Within a couple of days of joining, I had critiqued three people’s work and earned enough ‘karma’ to post my own work. Each post is limited to 3000 words. As my poems were much less than that, I was able to post two poems in the one post.

I received some great feedback from my first post. Four members have critiqued my work so far, but as it remains posted for 30 days, I may still get more. Even so, the four critiques have helped me edit my work. Some of the feedback was as thorough as the feedback from some of my lecturers!

There’s a bit more to it, but I really like it so far. It’s a very easy site to navigate. Check it out!

Update

In terms of editing and writing, I have been working on three of the four poems from the Magical Realist Poetry course I completed in August. The editing has been a challenge, mainly because the poems are very different to those I usually write.

I hope to add these poems to my first collection of poetry, which I’m currently working on. I have a theme for my collection, so whenever I wrote a poem for the course, I considered this theme as well as the lesson prompt. Otherwise, I have been editing and critiquing on Scribophile, which helps my own process.

General

That’s all for this month. It has been a busy one with both the course ending and being involved with Scribophile.

#6 – October 2014

Publishing News

This month, I’ve had four poems accepted for publication. The two journals that have accepted them are Bitterzoet and Axolotl. They haven’t been published yet, but when they are I’ll post a link on my website. I wrote all four poems during online courses I completed in the last year.

Once again, I found the journals through Duotrope, which I subscribed to earlier this year. I am also reading the very informative website, New Pages. The section, Call for Submissions, is especially helpful.

My Latest Reads

Over the last month, I’ve read a few novels on both Greece and Turkey. The first is Louis de Berniere’s Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. It is about the occupation of the Ionian island of Kythera by the Italians during the Second World War.

The second is de Berniere’s Birds Without Wings. In many ways, it is more powerful than Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. It is about the lives of the Greek Muslims and Turks living together early last century in a small town not far from Fethiye on the Mediterranean.

I have also enjoyed the work of Victoria Hislop. I came across her work after my partner, Lisa, and I visited Greece a few years ago. We came across a Greek TV series that was very powerful. It was called To Nisi, which means The Island. We later realised it was based on Victoria Hislop’s book of the same name. The book, The Island, is about an exiled leprosy community living on the island of Spinalonga, off north-eastern Crete.

I have also read The Return by Victoria Hislop. This is a fictional work based in the city of Thessaloniki early last century. This was a great read too! As usual, I’ve also been reading lots of poetry.

General

That’s all for this month. It has been a busy one with both the course ending and being involved with Scribophile.

#7 – November 2014

We Are Moving!

I have not been able to focus a lot on poetry this month, because my partner, Lisa, and I are moving. We have sold our home (our cabin by the sea) and have spent a lot of time getting ready to leave.

We have bought one-way tickets to Greece. Our first stop will be the island of Crete. We will be staying in the city of Rethymnon – for as long as we like – and then we will move on. As I am a citizen of Greece and Australia, I am able to stay in Greece. Lisa, on the other hand, will need a visa extension if we decide to stay beyond three months. This could motivate us to move onto other destinations, including Turkey. We are also keen to explore other countries and plan to travel indefinitely.

Lisa and I will have plenty of time to work on our writing and research when we get to Crete. We have found a one-bedroom apartment near the sea for a reasonable price. Even though it will be winter when we arrive, we look forward to enjoying the differences in living in Greece for a while.

Any spare time I’ve had this month has been spent working on editing my poetry and critiquing on Scribophile. My first poetry collection is coming along well. I would like to publish a few more poems in journals before I release my collection as an ebook. I have also begun researching poetry publishers as I am considering the viability of releasing a hard copy as well.

My Latest Reads

Nothing much to report this month. I have moved away from reading novels for the time being but continue to read a variety of poetry. I have focused on reading poetry journals which I find through Duotrope or New Pages. It is an enjoyable process as it offers the prospect of discovering some great works.

#8 – December 2014

Publishing

I’ve had two poems accepted for publication this month. They’ll be published by Ishaan Literary Review in January. As usual, I’ll be posting the poems on my website once they have been published.

Poetry Research

This month, I have used the Poets and Writers Classifieds to search for calls for submissions, poetry editors and manuscript requests. I’m thinking about sending my first poetry collection to a publisher first before I self-publish an ebook.

I’ve continued using Scribophile. I have just joined a new group on it, called ‘The Story of Nature’. The group has just been formed and I have read some great nature poetry from it.

I also joined The Poetry School site this month. It’s in the UK, but they also have online courses. Unlike Scribophile, which focuses on all kinds of writing, the focus of the Poetry School is poetry – which is great for me! I hope to do a course next year.

The Rooster Moans has released most of its courses for next year. I will be enrolling shortly. Australian Poetry is also listing next year’s online courses soon. It’s getting exciting!

Update on Moving

If you read last month’s newsletter, you may remember that my partner Lisa and I bought one-way tickets to Greece. Well, there has been a change due to the buyers and we have had to cancel our tickets. The good news is that we have negotiated a new sale contract and we now plan to leave by mid-January. We may even go via Bali, to spend a month having a relaxing holiday/rest before we fly to Greece as originally planned.

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