31 December 2011

2011, year of not as much poetry as I had intended

Sometimes I feel I'm in a time loop. Looking back at a post I wrote in Jan last year, I find I've articulated the very things I'm still feeling: that I keep pushing my own poetry to the bottom of the list. I decided that 2011 was going to be my Year of Poetry. I decided I was going to read a poetry book a week. I decided I was going to finish and polish the manuscript for my next book. I was going to focus more on my own poetry and less on publishing poetry.

So, this year, instead of publishing my average of one Seraph Press book, I published two. They are both wonderful, and I'm glad I published them. But after the middle of the year I did end up feeling that publishing (the two Seraph Press books, plus JAAM) was dominating my time entirely.

I haven't managed to read 52 poetry books this year. I stopped recording them back in May at 16/52. But I've also read these, in no particular order because I can't remember:
  • Cookhouse, by Paula Green (17/52)
  • Spark, by Emma Neale (18/52)
  • The City, by Jennifer Compton (19/52)
  • Thicket, by Anna Jackson (this is her new one, which sent me back to:) (20/52)
  • Catullus for Children, by Anna Jackson (and) (21/52)
  • The Long Road to Teatime, by Anna Jackson (22/52)
  • Hill of Wool, by Jenny Bornholdt (23/52)
  • The Moonmen, by Anna Livesey (24/52)
  • Western Line, by Airini Beautrais (25/52)
  • Men Briefly Explained, by Tim Jones (26/52)
  • Tongues of Ash, by Keith Westwater (27/52)
  • The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls, by Kate Camp (28/52)
  • Poetry Reading at Kaka Point, by Peter Olds (29/52)
  • Pocket Edition, by Geoff Cochrane (30/52)
  • The Cheese and Onion Sandwich and other New Zealand Icons: Prose Poems, by Vivienne Plumb (Ok, so I did publish it, but I had to read it multiple times, so I'm going to count it) (31/52)
  • The Comforter, by Helen Lehndorf (ditto) (32/52)
  • Green Man Running, by Anna Jackson's honours class (I taught them how to hand-bind this little collection one Saturday afternoon) (33/52)
  • 2011, by Anna Jackson (this is a little book of 11 poems Anna put together to commemorate the year) (34/52)
  • The Same as Yes, by Joan Fleming (a Christmas present) (35/52)
  • Nice Pretty Things and others, by Rachel Bush (also a Christmas present, and I haven't actually finished it yet, but I'll make sure I do today). (36/52)
So, 36. Not quite 52, but on the way.

I also haven't quite finished Cinema, the sadly neglected thing that it is, but I have gone so far as to sort it into an order, and hand it over to a trusted friend to read and give me feedback. (Pretty much the first thing she said is that she doesn't think the order is right!) Even though there are still some unfinished poems in there, it has helped make me feel like it isn't too far off being done.

Thinking back on the year, some other cool poetry things have happened. I've been part of Tuesday Poems for its second year (I don't always manage to post or be a good community member, but I try), and we Wellington members had two meet-ups - appropriately at the book-filled Library bar.

I did a couple of readings this year, both of which were really enjoyable - for me at least. In March I read at the Ballroom with Helen Heath and Helen Lehndorf as Helen Cubed. This was a wonderful experience, and one I hope we will reprise. At the end of the year, in early December, I read at Blondini's with Vana Manasiadis, Emma Barnes and Stefanie Lash. Much scarier than the readings was going out to Newlands College, doing talk to a hall-full (well, actually it was half-full) of students (which including reading a few poems, which I found much more comfortable than talking), running a writing workshop (which went really well, to my great relief) and presenting prizes to students who had placed in a poetry competition I had judged.

And I've had a few things published around the place. Most exciting for me was probably Sport publishing a poem sequence 'Nine Movies' (which is from Cinema) in it's entirely - all nine poems. Another big highlight is Paula Green selecting a couple of my poems for a new anthology of love poems that is being published in 2012. Sadly that had to be cut back to one when it got the publisher, who needed it to be a shorter book, but I'm still very excited. And it was also cool when my poem 'If this is the future...', which had been published in issue 2 of Eye to the Telescope, was the Thursday poem in the Dominion Post. (My in-laws still have the clipping stuck to their fridge.)

So, my year wasn't quite as poetry-filled as I hoped it would be, but it also wasn't quite such as failure as I thought it was before I started reflecting. And I'm going to try to make 2012 an even better year of poetry - one where I write more anyway.


Tim Jones said...

I think you have done very well with your poetry reading, Helen! I have been compiling my own what-I-read-in-2011 post, and although I thought I'd read a lot of poetry, I'd actually read 14 poetry collections and one anthology from a total of 59 books - the 59th book, which I am enjoying a lot, being "The Comforter". (Of course, I read a lot of other poems online.)

Despite that low total, I think my poetry reading has been the biggest highlight this year.

Rachel Fenton said...

Wow - I'd be thrilled with that - my reading has slipped second place to writing this year. Your achievements are something aspire to. May 2012 be lycra, creativity gymnastic.

helen said...

Goodness me - that sounds like an impressively postry-filled year to me. It's funny how we set such high standards for ourselves, aye? You ought to feel proud of all you achieved in 2011. Wonderful!
xx Helen