My second month as Poet-in-Residence at the St John the Baptist church in Peterborough started with being featured in one of the monthly listings magazines for the area (Nene Valley Living). Feedback came quick at my day job as people mentioned they’d seen it. The best part (I thought) was that it didn’t focus just on me but on the wider poetry scene in Peterborough as none of us exist in isolation. The article mentioned a couple of the poetry groups that are active in the city and some of the other high profile poets (such as Mark Grist and Mixy who you’ll find elsewhere on the Book A Poet site). Local listings magazines are always looking for filler so I’d recommend that every poet build up a list of your local publications to help raise your own profiles.
I have a good idea of what is happening in the local poetry/literature scene in and around the city and have had my own column for two years in a magazine that is distributed around the pubs (Rhythm and Booze), and before that wrote a similar one for another magazine, until they decided to change the focus. Fair enough, just wished they’d chatted about the changes before dropping me as I like to think I could have wrote to their new target.
The down side of the national poetry scene has been losses to the Small Press of the West Midlands poet and editor Geoff Stevens, whose magazine Purple Patch was a regular fixture for many years. Also the Scottish based publication Earth Love closed due to rises in Post Office charges (for PO Box as well as stamps) and I fear that this is only the first of many. Both Geoff and Earth Love will be missed.
On lighter notes, I was standing in Cathedral Square in Peterborough with a bunch of flowers for my girlfriend when a guy from the council came up flashing his identity card, asking to see my pedlar’s licence. Seems that one bunch of flowers is enough to make you a suspicious character. Then when I was coming back from performing at the Wisbech Arts Festival (who have big plans for future years, just hope that they can fit me in again) the bus driver asked if I knew the route. Other passengers were shouting encouragement and directions, we had one brief reversal and (after ending up in the wilds of the fens with mist rising) a swift return along a country road we’d just driven along.