Creative Writing students on the Writing Poetry for Publication module were treated to a seminar with prize-winning poet, William Stephenson.
William told the story of his own road to publication through poetry competitions, literary magazines and pamphlets. He read from his collections and took questions from the students, before going on to give a number of top tips:
- magazines are a good place to start: do your research first (there is an excellent selection of magazines in the University of Chester library), and then send out your best work to those magazines which are most suitable to your style of writing, making sure that you read the magazine’s submission guidelines carefully;
- keep track of the places where you send your work with a table or spreadsheet;
- expect a ratio of several rejections for every acceptance – do not be discouraged by rejections: persist;
- in terms of putting together a collection, get feedback from your peers, use your best poems, then decide on an order linked to theme;
- when it comes to writing be adventurous with language – you must go beyond the merely ‘poetic’;
- don’t be afraid to make use of other kinds of language, such as scientific and technical terminology, which reflects the world we live in;
- internal rhyme and half-rhyme can help build tension and momentum, and can be subtly more effective than end-rhyme;
- don’t be afraid of writing garbage; you may have to write plenty of this in order to eventually find a voice which is original and interesting (this is better than trying to be ‘original’ for the sake of it);
William’s poems have appeared in Envoi, Iota, Magma, Orbis, The North and The Rialto. His first collection Travellers and Avatars was shortlisted for the Live Canon First Collection Prize and will appear in 2017. His pamphlets are Rain Dancers in the Data Cloud (Templar, 2012) and Source Code (Ravenglass, 2013).
The seminar was organised by Dr Ian Seed.