On 15 April, Creative Writing students on the module Writing Poetry for Publication spent a seminar and workshop with poet Andrew McMillan (in centre of photo). Andrew was born in South Yorkshire in 1988; his debut collection physical was the first ever poetry collection to win the Guardian First Book Award. The collection also won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award, the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. It was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for autumn 2015. In 2014 he received a substantial Northern Writers’ Award. He currently lectures in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University and lives in Manchester.
The focus of the seminar was ‘routes to publication’. Andrew advised first becoming familiar with literary magazines, many of which can be found in the University of Chester’s library, such as The North, Poetry London and Shearsman. ‘Once you have found a magazine whose poetry you enjoy and which suits your style, read the submission guidelines carefully, then send off your poems.’ Andrew’s first published poem was in The North when he was still an undergraduate; his second was in the online journal Shadowtrain. Andrew believes that sending work to magazines is a better bet than entering competitions, and that your poem in a magazine will actually be read by people who care about poetry. If you are very lucky, your work may even be selected from the magazine for an anthology. No book publisher is likely to consider your poems unless you have first had your work published in literary magazines. Andrew advised not to worry about rejections (he says he could fill a suitcase with all the rejections he has had), to be persistent, and to make your writing the most important thing in the world when you are doing it.
Andrew then went on to take questions, read from his collection physical, talk about the nature of ‘confessional poetry’, and finally got us all writing a confessional poem of our own.
The visit was organised by Dr Ian Seed.