Poetry Round-up 2019 – Claire Walker

Each writing year has its ups and downs – the bouts of success mixed with the fallow periods where nothing is written or accepted, where it maybe feels like nothing is working as hoped. It is the way of things. 2019 has been no different but, in amongst those general frustrations, there has been one particularly big highlight for me: the publication of Collision, my pamphlet with Against the Grain Press.

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Submitted during the June 2018 window, I learned that my pamphlet had been successful during a holiday with my family in Lyme Regis, Dorset. This seemed a particularly fitting location to receive the news, as the poems in the Collision are sea-themed, and four specifically are about the fossil hunter and palaeontologist Mary Anning, who lived and worked in the town.

Fast-forward to 2019. Collision grew from submitted-manuscript into hold-in-your-hand-pamphlet form, and the editing process was a very warm experience. One particular email from the editors caused great excitement – being asked to choose my cover colour! I decided on one from the sea-green range, as it seemed fitting for the tone of the pamphlet.

In keeping with Against the Grain events, the pamphlet was launched at The Poetry Café in Covent Garden. This was a thrilling experience, although in the run up to the event I was more nervous about this reading than any I’ve done before. Mainly, I think, because it was outside my comfort zone – literally, as I usually do readings in the Midlands and don’t really know anyone in London, so had convinced myself there would be no one in the audience! To my relief and delight, people came. It was great to meet new people, as well as see some familiar faces who’d travelled from further afield.

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I was given the opportunity to invite guest readers along, and was so happy that Cheryl Pearson and Sarah Doyle, two superbly talented poets, agreed. I admire both Cheryl and Sarah’s work immensely, so to hear them read was a joy.

Members of my family came, including my two young daughters. Both enjoyed the experience, so that definitely counts as a success in my book! The day of the launch was actually my youngest daughter’s birthday, so I was honoured that she didn’t mind sharing it with poetry (although we took a trip to Hamleys the next day, for balance!).

The launch of Collision was a wonderful occasion. It was the perfect way to help my little sea-themed, green-covered book set sail into the world and, as well as being my writing highlight of 2019, it’s an experience I will appreciate and treasure forever.

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