Advent Blog Day 18: Failure, Or Is It?

Okay, I didn’t manage it. Did not publish 25 Advent blogs between 20th and 25th December, as I suggested I would, but I have three things to say in mitigation. 

Warning: this post is devoid of arithmetic and logic. Its results cannot be relied upon.

Firstly the target was wrong. As discussed around the Christmas Dinner table when I was lucky enough to be with my ‘family bubble’ this Christmas Day, Advent calendars generally have only have 24 days. So, there is should not be and will not be an Advent blog day 25.

Secondly, life got in the way and that’s a good thing. 

Thirdly, I am not defeated yet. I have given this blog the Advent Day Number 18 of the (exceptionally-belated) series. Though I have now run miles past the day we all call Christmas, every day is an advent to something new.

I realise none of this makes sense but just imagine I’m a politician attempting to fool you with lies, not to believe the evidence of your own eyes, and allow me to get away with it, as they invariably do due to our complacency. 

Thank you in advance for agreeing to do that. This political chicanery is easier than I first thought! 

Oh, and given the records of our most recent Prime Ministers to mislead and destroy the country, I leave you with my poetic reminder of one of the most efficient our country has ever known. This poem appears in the December (Thatcher) Issue of The Angry Manifesto, edited by Matt Duggan and Des Mannay.

Irony Lady
 

 Once upon a time in Britain
 the very idea of a woman doing the job 
 would have drawn derision
 

 Now I am neither misogynist nor Nostradamus sir
 but all those years ago when the doorstep canvasser 
 presumed - We can surely depend upon your support 
 We are the party for the upwardly mobile you sir -
 I do not know what made me say - 
 Not with That Woman in charge, she’ll lead us to war -
 but I did
 The canvasser shook his head, smiled and said -
 The old enemies have gone, with whom should we pick a fight? -
 but she did
 

 You can call it a Conflict if you like - a killing by any other name 
 still stinks of blood
 She really made us travel for that battle 
 Bent and broke the rules to make it happen
 Argie-bargie, mano a mano?
 Ask the ghosts of the Belgrano?
 

 The greatest PM of the century? 
 I think not.
 Performing minor miracles?
 The miners would disagree -
 though she did black-magic all sorts of unexpected 
 from her blue handbag 
 Not just war in time of peace
 Investors caught on bullish horns 
 Disappearing roofs in property booms
 The loss of everything in pursuit of gain 
 Division of brothers on an industrial scale 
 Dominatrix seeks reward for sadomasochistic pain
 

 No to milk and education 
 should have signalled things to fear
 Weeks after a friend’s assassination 
 mention of that friend felt insincere
 amid a wild-eyed selective rendition 
 of part of Saint Francis’ prayer
 

 All these before are symptoms of an incurable condition - 
 Maggielomania or the delusion that you are a female God - 
 which made her go further than any male politician 
 to prove she was at least as flawed
 

Advent Blog Day 19: First Annual Thanks (2020)

As this is a very new website and I remain in the category of emerging writer, I have not previously had the opportunity to review what has happened in my year of writing. I hesitate to do so in case I fail to credit anyone who has helped or encouraged me in the last twelve months but I’ll just have to take that risk and now hereby apologise in advance to anyone I unintentionally omit to mention.

Photo by u0158aj Vaishnaw on Pexels.com

The first news I received in January was that I had a winning entry in Hedgehog Poetry Press’ Nicely Folded Paper – Trois Competition. I look forward to the publication of the resultant Art of Insomnia chapbook in the early part of 2021. Thank you Mark Davidson and Hedgehog. Thanks are also due to two women I won’t mention by name at this stage. The first is my late wife, my muse who was my inspiration for many things, including this work. The second is a poet whose work I very much admire and who very recently provided notes on the latest draft; both will be formally acknowledged for posterity in the published work.

Following this early success, things went rather quiet (three rejections) until March when Cheeky Besoms Productions accepted one of my favourite poems for an anthology which was due to be published in 2020 but has been delayed because of the pandemic. It will be published when there can be an in-person launch in 2021. Thank you Ruby McCann, Maria Marchidanu and all others involved with the anthology.

The only other acceptance in March was for radio airplay of an audio recording of a new version of an older poem the apocalyptic dj. It was played on the 2nd April 2020 episode of Express Yourself on the Radio. Thanks to Sunny G Radio and Carla Woodburn.

In April I submitted two poems both of which were accepted for an Anthology of Radical Scottish Poetry published by Culture Matters. The anthology was titled A Kist of Thistles. Thank you Culture Matters and Editor, Jim Aitken.  

Also in April I was emboldened to submit the audio recording of the apocalyptic dj to an American podcast and they used it in their podcast of 23 April 2020. So, thank you Poetry in the Bar hosted by Eaton Rapids Poetry Club, Michigan.

In April, May and June I had lots of rejections but a total of four of my poems relating to the pandemic were accepted and placed in an online journal about Covid-19. Thank you Pendemic.

In May, a short story I had submitted in March, was accepted for publication by New Voices Press for Surfing, the 2020 anthology of the Federation of Writers (Scotland) which was subsequently published in November.  The short story Taste was the first piece of prose fiction I had ever had accepted for publication. Thank you to Federation of Writers (Scotland).

In May I submitted two poems which were both accepted for the Poets Against Trump anthology. It was initially published online in October; thereafter in paper form in November. Thanks are due to Stephanie Lunn.

At the end of June I submitted an entry to a Hedgehog Press pamphlet competition. Though unsuccessful my entry was shortlisted. For that, thank you Hedgehog Press.

In July I submitted a poem for a Black Lives Matter anthology. I was delighted that it was published in Black Lives Matter – Poems for a New World in November. Thank you Civic Leicester and Ambrose Musiyiwa, Editor.

Also in July four poems were accepted for Words from Battlefield (launched 24 October) and a creative non-fiction piece was accepted for a World War II audio project. Thanks for these successes are due to Dr Linda Jackson, Finn’s Place Publishing and Langside Community Heritage. 

Further, I was asked to provide a reading of one of my poems Carnival, which originally appeared in Poems for Grenfell Tower (The Onslaught Press, 2018), to be included in the Grenfell Soundwalk, a permanent geolocated audio installation. Thanks to Giovanna Iorio, the sound artist commissioned to complete the installation.                

August brought success for an audio-visual reading of the apocalyptic dj for which thanks are due to Lesley Traynor and others at Scottish Writers’ Centre.

In the same month I submitted a poem about Margaret Thatcher which was subsequently accepted for and published in The Angry Manifesto magazine (Thatcher Edition) published December 2020. Thank you, The Angry Manifesto, Matt Duggan and Des Mannay, Editors.

Finally, in the same month, I contributed some words which former Federation Makar Andy Jackson weaved into his patchwork poem for National Poetry Day Theme, ‘Vision’ (video reading released on 1 October 2020). Thanks, Andy Jackson, for your your consistent creative skill in collating disparate poetic voices into these annual works.

Following a complete lack of success in September, in October I submitted, appeared in a shortlist of six, but ultimately was unsuccessful in yet another Hedgehog Poetry Pamphlet competition. Once again, thanks to Hedgehog for shortlisting me with such a talented bunch of poets. 

Undeterred, in November I made a full collection submission to Hedgehog which was also unsuccessful, not even shortlisted.

However, in December I had the great joy of receiving acceptances for a total of eight poems spread over four themed chapbooks with Dreich. Thanks to Jack Caradoc and hybriddreich.com

I should also say that during this unconventional poetry performance year, in addition to those audio/audio-visual performances previously mentioned I have contributed to a number of Zoom events including Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Dove Tales Scotland and Virtual Dragonflies. Thanks to Anna Saunders, Annie Ellis, Jean Rafferty, Darren J Beaney and Barbara Kirbyshaw, who host and administer these events. 

It’s also been a great encouragement to take part in creative writing classes and workshops. Mentions for Dr Linda Jackson, former FWS Makars Finola Scott and Marjorie Lotfi Gill. And former FWS Scriever Charlie Gracie.

The people I have enjoyed meeting during all events are too many to mention but you all know who you are. 

The year is nearly finished but I still have a submission or two to email. I also have one more live event to look forward to at 5.00pm on Boxing Day. It’s a You Call That Radio event Overheard in the Westend. Thanks to Mark McGhee for inviting me.

I have also been invited to submit audio recordings of some of my poetry to an Eat The Storms podcast to be relayed early in 2021. I’ll be recording those shortly. Thanks Damien B Donnelly for the kind invitation.

Given that this is developing into a longer post than intended, I’ll wind it up now by adding my thanks to anyone who has taken time to read any of my work or the random ramblings which appear in this blog. 

[UPDATE POSTSCRIPT: as this is late publication of a proposed 19th December post I am able to provide this brief update.

As well as having my reading of a poem included as previously indicated in the Poetry in the Bar April podcast, a further two poems read by me were included in the open mic of the 30 December podcast. Thanks again to Poetry in the Bar hosted by Helen and Gav, Eaton Rapids Poetry Club, Michigan.

As well as appearing on the Boxing Day You Call That Radio event when I read five poems, I was invited back to the You Call That Radio Hogmanay Event to read my short story Taste. Thanks again to Mark McGhee – a great way to finish off the year!]