‘To enter a wood is to pass into a different world in which we are transformed. It is no accident that in Shakespeare’s comedies, people go into the greenwood to grow, learn and change. It is where you travel to find yourself, paradoxically, by getting lost.’
Roger Deakin, Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees (Hugo Hamilton, 2007)
At poetry workshops, when a writer has finished reading their work and the rest of the group are still re-reading and processing, four words are often blurted into this space:
‘And that really happened.’
Perhaps it has to do with the discomfort of a silence, the unease of waiting for a response and a need, conscious or unconscious, to reinforce the credibility of the work. To me, factual basis is irrelevant in a poem. The rendering of events as they occurred may be good journalism or memoir, but a poem requires something more. To become a poem, the facts must pass through a crucible, they must be transformed.
This month, I have four new poems published in The Lonely Crowd, a wonderful literary journal based in Wales. To mark the occasion, editor John Lavin invited me to write a short essay about these poems – you can read the full essay at The Lonely Crowd website, along with lots of other writers discussing their work, and also listen to me reading the poem, ‘Root’.
The journal is beautifully produced, a surprisingly hefty tome packed with great poetry, fiction and interviews including new work by Irish writers Caitriona Lally, John McAuliffe, Kevin Cahill, Meadhbh Ni Eadhra, Arnold Fanning, Kevin Graham, Kathleen MacMahon, K.S. Moore, Grahame Williams and Paul Whyte, plus gorgeous cover photography by Jo Mazelis. Lavin is zealously active in his sharing of the work on social media and I’m hugely grateful for all his hard work in selecting and promoting exciting new writing from the UK and Ireland.
From a writer’s perspective, The Lonely Crowd is such a generous and rewarding place to be published – I’d highly recommend getting a hold of a copy and considering them for your work when they open for submissions again in 2019.
And if you’re looking for places to send your work right now, check out the current list of poetry competitions, submissions and opportunities open or with deadlines in November.
Featured Images © Jo Mazelis, 2018.