Monday, 3 December 2012

The Beauty of a Writing Retreat

I spent five days last week on my own in a holiday cottage at Wells-next-the-sea writing. It was an amazing experience. My normal life is pretty busy with lots of different threads of things that I am involved in, plus I share a house with my 20-year-old son who is at Art School so my home life is often busy too. It was great to have time to just fully focus on my work. I found that I got into a completely different zone of thinking about it. I now completely understand why people go on longer writing retreats. if I had had another week or two I probably would have written an entire book.

I didn't however re-order my collection, but what I did do was generate a lot of new work. I already had a couple of new sequences that I had been working on and which I knew would change my collection significantly once I added them in. What I did when I was away was to write an entirely new sequence of about twenty poems that compliments one of the other sequences. I am very excited about it - I can now see that the collection is taking on a definite shape and isn't just going to be the best poems I have written over the last year or two - it will have a theme and a form. Now I just have to work out how the other poems will fit around the sequences.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Back to the Old Question of Order

 I am back to the old question of how to order my collection - having put together a pamphlet sized collection - I then expanded it to a full collection - however I knew in my heart of hearts that some of the poems weren't entirely up to scratch. This was confirmed when my mentor looked at it. She earmarked some poems to take out and some to work on some more and some themes that I could pursue further.  Luckily I had already been writing some new and what I consider to be more exciting work. I had been thinking that I would save this new work but now I am thinking that it will be the nucleus of the collection (along with the sequence of prose poems).

I feel like I have worked hard on this collection - pushing myself to edit and re-edit and pushing the boundaries of my writing.  I now have to reconsider my order. I had put the poems in a kind of chronological order - starting with poems about childhood. This I now realise is a little obvious - I need to be more subtle, to find other more tenuous connections between the poems.

Next week I am devoting a full five days to working on what I have - I am excited and a little scared. I will be away from the Internet and my usual distractions. I will be forced to face myself and my writing demons.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Essence and similarity

Sitting on a bus today I found myself wondering if you can write anything without being influenced by things that you have read to a greater or lesser extent?  Since starting my series of domestic poems I have been reading Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces by Georges Perec and Recyclopedia: S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge by Harryette Mullen. I had already read quite a bit of Charles Simic and Vasko Popa.  I am not consciously emulating any of these writers in my work, but I do believe that we are (at lease subtly and sometimes more so) influenced by the things that we have read - especially if we find them inspiring - if they speak to us in a language that excites us and that we can relate to.

What is interesting to me is that some of the earlier poems in the domestic object series have a similar sound and feel to some of the pieces in Tender Buttons - and these were the ones that I wrote before I started reading it. This led me to wonder whether there is some innate quality in these inanimate domestic objects that is somehow tapped into and embodied by anyone who tries to tap into the essence of them through writing.  If you try to capture the true essence of an object is it inevitable that there will be some similarity to other work where the writer has tried to do the same thing?  Does this similarity make the work any less valid?

Friday, 14 September 2012

Object Relationships

So today my Friday creative class started again, and in keeping with my current obsession we had a session about domestic and household objects and how they can be used in poetry and prose.  One of the poems we looked at was "Fork" by Charles Simic which drew a mixed reaction form the students.   - one of them described it as being slightly sinister because it seemed to be turning the hand into something  horrible.

I like the possibility that the object can act upon or change its user. Usually we view inanimate objects as being  passive - they are used by us for our own ends. We might change the object but we don't usually expect the object to change us.  It left me wondering do we act on the object or does the object act on us? What if we are changed in some way by picking up and object and using it? Do we become the object or an extension of the object when we pick it up, or does it become part of, or an extension of, us?  And if the object does change us then do we remain changed once we put it down again, and if so how long does the change last for - is it permanent?  What is our relationship to the object? Does it have one with us?

Monday, 10 September 2012

Capturing the essence

Good to eat and they appeal - Farm fresh onions by pupski
 a photo by pupski on Flickr.

If you are trying to capture the essence of a thing in a few lines is this enough of anything to be a poem? I am not sure that it is. If you have a few short pieces together is this enough to be a poem? Maybe, but I am still not sure. Are these short vignettes more satisfying for the writer than the reader? Is it merely an indulgent exploration of the it-ness of things, or is it something more?

Today I have been thinking about vegetables - writing a series of small pieces: each one focussing on a vegetable, and each one short - maybe one, two or three lines long.  I am not entirely happy with all of them yet. i wanted to capture the essence of the thing, but not be too obvious. That makes the process sound a lot more deliberate than it was.  To begin with it was a little more like automatic writing - but that makes it sound less deliberate than it was.  I have changed some words that didn't sound right or that I had repeated too often. It was an interesting exercise. One thing I discovered was that the same words kept coming up over and over (hence the changes) and that overtly foodie words started to creep in too - words like sweet and flavour.  These words are OK in moderation, and the spontaneous nature of the pieces means that I don't want to change too much.  I think I will write a few more and see how (or if) they all hang together. If nothing else it is an interesting experiment.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

More about the fork

Fork detail courtesy of George Hart 
To know something anew in language is almost impossible.  In art the idea of painting an object without bringing in your pre-conceived idea of that object is more achievable. In painting you can focus on the negative space around the object thus building the object almost accidentally.  You can also break the object down to its component parts, or you can focus on the colour or the light.  The very act of naming something brings with it,without our even meaning to, the whole weight of what we know about the object being named, and our own personal history with it. Natty Peterkin (an illustrator) commented that "in art you are constructing an object whilst in writing you are de-constructing it - breaking it down to its individual elements." Naming an object is an act of translation: we are translating the object out of its original form and into another.  And if we translate the name of the item from one language to another we are still bringing with us the weight of what we already know about it.

I have also found myself wondering if some objects are just so "of themselves" that they are harder to liken to anything else, or think of in abstract terms. For example, I have been writing a series of small poems about domestic objects - some of those objects I found relatively easy to write about, but others were really hard to get to grips with.  The one I struggled with most was the fork.  I found myself asking questions: what is the fork like? Is it like anything else? A comb? (not really) A trident? (a kind of fork) A garden fork? (still a fork)  A seed head? (maybe) A claw? (better) A telegraph pole? A tree in a nuclear winter?

 Forks can be changed in works of art - I have seen mobiles and sculptures made with them - but they are still immediately recognizable as forks.  For some reason it is really hard to disguise a fork, whereas some other objects can be changed more easily.  A friend recently showed me a beautiful silver bracelet - after I had looked at it for a minute or so she told me that it was made from silver sugar tongs - I could then immediately see that it was indeed made of sugar tongs, but on first look the sugar tongs presence was not obvious.

Does the problem I have with the fork stem from the fact that it is the most used item of cutlery? (at least in our house). I think that's why I found Padrika Tarrant's book The Knife Drawer so compelling - the idea that something so embedded in our culture and everyday lives as cutlery could come to life and turn on us is profoundly disturbing.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Unknowing a Fork

Surely it's impossible to write of a familiar object like the fork without employing all the language and memories and feelings and pre-conceived ideas that you have about that object? It is a familiar object - it is a fork - it is the epitome of your every day breakfast, lunch and dinner table. It encompasses years and years of what you were taught, of what you learned and what you know. To write about a fork it is nigh on impossible not to evoke its forkiness. To apply the principle of ostranenie is possible - making us look at the fork in a new light - but it is still the fork we know, just viewed from a different perspective.  You can't unknow a fork once you know one (unless you have Alzheimer's or a memory killing crack on the head).  Forkdom is inherent within us - the only way to unknow a fork would be to time travel back to babyhood to learn a fork in all its guises for the first time.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Writing the Domestic

Have been writing a lot of poems about the domestic of late - and I don't mean that in the houseworky, housewife, domestic poetry sense. But I am interested in domestic concerns - looking afresh at the everyday: rooms; houses on my street;  those overlooked spaces like cupboards and draws, sheds and outhouses.

Writing about such concerns has naturally sent me in quest of other writers who have explored this territory. Charles Sinic seemed like an obvious place to start as his poem Fork immediately sprang to mind, and someone in one of my workshopping groups recommended Species of Spaces and Other Pieces by Georges Perec, which I have bought but as yet haven't had time to read. What I have been reading this week is Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein. Stein employs ostranenie to the extreme - her writing about objects is both ridiculous and sublime prose poetry written in a stream of conciousness style. Stein juxtaposes seemingly unrelated, utterly surprising and often beautiful images, but it is quite hard to read too much of it in one go. I can read three or four poems at a time and then I need a while to process them, and I will often read them again when I come back to the book. These are poems that you can come back to again and again and they will keep revealing new layers of meaning.

At the same time I have reading a collection of poems called A Light Sense of Light by Caribbean poet Kei Miller. Miller's work doesn't address the domestic directly, but his language is fresh and inspiring. It is probably the best collection that I have read this year, and the combination Miller's fresh use of language and Stein's surreal juxtapositions has been really inspiring whenever inspiration has been flagging.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Getting Closer

I feel like I am getting closer to an idea of how I want to order my collection now and I have a working title as well. One of the most difficult choices is what things to put in and what things to leave out. I tend to find that I don't ever really like much of my work that is over a year old - but used that as a criteria for will go in the collection it will be very thin.  I have a body of work that I produced on my MA at UEA but I am not really keen on much of it now - and anything written before that is almost definitely out.

The only thing that I know for certain at this juncture is that my sequence of prose poems is definitely going in, and some of my poems about transformation.  The prose poems have a fairly unique voice and at one point I had thought that I might wait until I had enough of them for a mini collection or a pamphlet - the trouble is that I have flurries of writing them and then I don't write any for ages. Each time I write one I think that now I am surely done with them, but then a month or so later another one pops out.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Questions about writing

Arvon is asking for writers to answer some questions about their writing practice, some of which will be included in a new book published later this year. I found this a useful and enlightening exercise and thought I would share my answers here. if you want to fill in their questionnaire head over to

I would say that it is both inventing and discovering. Some pieces of writing come as an overwhelming urge, there is a sense of urgency that drives pen to paper - rather like an incredible itch that you just have to scratch. 

Other ideas bubble away under the surface for a while until they are finally ready to burst forth into the light of day - this quiet bubbling of ideas can take days, weeks or even years.

What things trigger your imaginative process (for example, significant personal experiences, particular people, places, objects, dream imagery, myths, history, etc)?

There are a huge variety of things that can trigger ideas for me. Travel is one and if I am feeling blocked I often go on a train journey to another town - I think it is the physical movement of the travelling rather than the destination that is important to my writing process.

Reading the work of other writers is another sure fire way of getting the creative juices flowing. I read a wide variety of prose and poets, but do have a few favourite poets that I go back to time and again if I want a sure fire hit of inspiration (C.D. Wright, Alice Oswald, Agnes Lehoczky).

Other things that inspire me are my own past, myth and fairytale - I could go on and on. Workshops with other writers are a rich source of material - and Arvon courses are great!

How do you work - do you plan carefully or explore in the dark, trusting the process?

I generally go where my inspiration takes me and then edit carefully later. Sometimes I have in mind that something might be part of a series but for the initial germ of the poem I generally go with the idea that comes.

Do you feel in control of your writing or are you responsive to the requirements of the work as it unfolds?

I am in control of the editing and of creating the right conditions for creativity take place, but the ideas themselves sometimes seem to come from some higher place. I can sit down with an idea of something and end up being taken in a completely different direction.

Do you write a first draft quickly and then revise it, or build carefully from the start?

I tend to write my first drafts very quickly - sometimes the ideas are almost tumbling over one another to get on the page. Then it is a case of excavating the poem from the initial piece. Occasionally a poem arrives almost fully formed but more often than not a lot of editing and re-ordering takes place before I am happy with it.

How do you deal with blocks in the writing process?

Going on workshops, reading and travelling.

Do you write in service of any particular values?

That's a difficult one. I am not guided by any higher religious or political ideals. My main object is to be true to the poem - that is that the poem doesn't have to be true (as in relating a true  event as it happened) but it has to feel true to the reader - a kind of universal truth I guess if that makes any sense.

I am also in service to the idea of refining one's art - I want to be the best writer that I can be, which is why I continue to go to workshops, workshop work with my peers and attend readings and lectures. There is always something more to be learned.

What have you learned from the practice of your craft?

Patience firstly - as a young writer I would dash something off and think it was the most marvellous thing I had ever written. Practice and guidance has shown me that time and editing can improve your work no end.

What is the relationship between the writer's imagination and that of the reader?

The product of the writer's imagination is what speaks to the reader through the poem.  The writer needs to give the reader recognizable anchors to hold onto and then they sky is the limit.

Do writers have any moral responsibility in their work, wider than fidelity to their personal vision?

That depends on your audience - obviously if you are writing for children you would temper your content accordingly as they may not yet have moral maturity.  I think I would largely apply the same morals to my writing as my life - actually that isn't entirely true - I don't always like the morals of the characters in my work - sometimes this is what makes them interesting and I leave it for the reader to jusdge them.

Monday, 9 April 2012


I have noticed that one of the recurring themes in my writing is the idea of transformation - one thing turning into another thing or something emerging from inside something else. These transformations are not always comfortable. I am also a little obsessed with the idea of things being not what they seem - in my current writing this obsession has manifested itself in the form of poems where a human has animal qualities or is revealed to actually be an animal.  I am intrigued by the idea from quantum physics that we all contain particles of stardust from the big bang and the creation of the universe and also by Bohm's  theory of the Implicate Order which connects everything with everything else. "In principle, any individual element could reveal "detailed information about every other element in the universe." The central underlying theme of Bohm's theory is the "unbroken wholeness of the totality of existence as an undivided flowing movement without borders." (

My poems are much more simplistic than this of course, but nevertheless it is a fascinating idea that we all have elements of other things inside us.  I also seem to keep coming back to the idea of alienation which fits with the transformation theme very well. The change and alienation within the poems is not as large scale as in "The Metamorphosis" - usually it is more subtle - someone might have the characteristics of a bird or be revealed to be a fox.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Later and other repetitions

So someone said the other day that they had heard that you should never use the word later in a poem. I am not sure that I agree with this, but it did make me more aware of how and when I  use it in my own poems. I gave a reading at Ely River Rhymes Festival yesterday and one of the things I noticed was that two of the poems I read used the word later to signify something that will or could happen later on. This seems like too many  times - I don't want that kind of repetition of ideas in one reading.

I sometimes notice this kind of repetition in books. I know we all have particular words and phrases that we are attracted to, and that these ideas sometimes appear in more than one poem. For example I have a poem called "The Bird Inside" in which the "I" is "full to the brim with tweets and whistles" - and I have used a similar sentiment in another poem, which is about a new mother in hospital, where "her mouth emits a series of beeps and whistles..." Two very similar ideas, so similar in fact, that although the poems have quite different subject matter I don't feel comfortable reading them in the same reading. This is the kind of thing that I think I would really notice if I was reading a collection, and I wonder, although I like both poems, whether one of them should be ejected from the collection that I am putting together.

But back to the idea of whether "later" is an over-used conceit in poetry. I suppose it is used a fair amount (I will probably notice it a lot more now that my awareness has been drawn to it) and I will be thinking hard over the next few of days about whether there are other ways of signalling something that might or will happen later on in a poem.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Poetic Inspiration Project

This week I have been putting together the contents for an envelope to send to another poet as part of a poetic inspiration project. The project was inspired by the idea of mail art. Basically you put together a bunch of pictures, found objects, words, postcards etc and mail it to someone, then you receive an envelope from someone else on the list. It's a circle of giving. As part of mine I decided to make a collage. Because I don't seem to have enough creative time at the moment I have been mostly focusing on writing and editing poetry and reviews and I had forgotten how much I love making collage. When I practised art more collage and photography were my forms of choice.  The picture above is a not very good photograph of the collage that I made for my envelope. I am looking forward to the day when I receive an envelope through the post - I am hoping that it will inspire some poems.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Some Notes on Writing Practice

Just thought I would share the bones of a handout I am making for my writing class as we are looking at writing practice...

Some Notes on Writing Practice

Why do you write?

For money/fame
To understand yourself better

All valid reasons (and you may have others) – although if you are writing purely for money or fame it’s probably best to turn back now before you are too disappointed (or send for the formula of how to write a Mills and Boon) because although some authors do attain these things through their writing, most don’t.

When do you write?

With the best intention in the world most of us find it hard to actually sit and down and get on with writing. My writing comes in flurries – I will have weeks where I write a lot and weeks where I write very little, but if I’m not careful those times where I write very little could stretch out into weeks and even months. Writing is a practice, and like cleaning your teeth you need to make yourself get into the habit of doing it.

Creative Starting Points

Classes and workshops - these are great for learning your craft, generating new ideas, getting feedback and generally making you write, but to continue developing as a writer you need to be writing and editing outside of your class too.

Reading - many budding writers are scared of reading in case it influences their work, but I cannot emphasise enough how vital reading is to the writer: especially the developing writer. You wouldn’t expect to be able to learn saddle-making without looking at other saddles and seeing how they are constructed, so why would you expect to be able to write poetry or novels without studying some finely crafted examples?  Theodore Deppe says in Worsmithery that “Poems are called into existence by other poems.” Imitation is the best way of learning. Read as a writer, if you like (or dislike) a poem ask yourself why you like it, and what can you learn from it. Read widely: poetry, prose, non-fiction, old and new.

Morning pages or journals – this is a type of reflective writing. It is best done in the morning if before your editing mind has time to kick in. Write two or three A4 pages of free writing – anything that comes – don’t edit, just go with it. Write with the assumption and intention that no one else will read it - there is no right or wrong way to do it. My morning pages vary hugely. If you looked through my journals you would find lists, affirmations, poetry, bits of stories, moans, critical writing, shopping and to-do lists, reviews – all sorts.

This type of writing has several effects: it frees you from brain loops (somehow the act of writing something down frees your brain from going over and over it), it makes you look at important issues, it puts you in touch with what matters to you and what you are interested in. Somehow the act of getting the small stuff out of your brain and onto paper has the knock-on effect of freeing up the creative process. No one can really explain why morning pages work but they do and many successful writers and creatives use them.

·         If you find the idea of several pages too daunting then build up to it gradually. You can start with a couple of sentences a day and go from there.

Trips and outings to galleries, museums and inspiring places - Julia Cameron calls this “filling your creative well.”  When I feel creatively blocked I go on a river trip or train journey or visit a gallery. Do whatever inspires you – read a book, go to the cinema, go for a walk. “Creativity, of any kind, doesn’t occur in a vacuum. There’s no creative output without some creative input, so don’t neglect to nurture your inner artist. Give that creativity something to feed on.” (Erin Riker)

Write things down – sounds simple but is a stumbling block for many beginners. If you see or hear something interesting or you have the germ of an idea WRITE IT DOWN! You may think you will remember it later, but in reality most of don’t. We live in a busy world where things are happening around us all the time – if a great line or idea pops into your head write it down as soon as you can.

Think about why you are writing in your chosen form – “The best writing can involve the biggest risk, so perhaps you should attempt the discipline that causes you the most problems because then you will be most fully engaged, and most surprised when something goes well.” (William Herbert in Wordsmithery, Palgrave, 2007)

“poetry is like taking a still photograph, whereas prose is like filming with a movie camera” (Paul Auster, a novelist who started life as a poet)

“The poet wants everything, as many meanings as possible, to happen at once; the prose writer wants everything to happen in the best possible order.” (William Herbert)

Don’t over-plan – especially in poetry – a poem is exciting when it takes an unexpected turn, and often that turn is as unexpected for the writer as it is for the reader. Take your idea and see where it takes you, you might be surprised. If you already know exactly what you want to say then the poem will not be surprising.

Don’t be afraid of editing  - editing is your friend, although it’s often hard to make yourself do it. Editing can make a good poem great.  A common mistake amongst budding writers is to think that everything that they write is perfectly formed and that editing will compromise the works artistic integrity.  Fine – but it is extremely rare to read a writer that would not benefit from some editing.  If you want your poetry to move beyond your notebook and into the world beyond you need to be prepared to edit and workshop your work.

Once you have followed an idea to its conclusion leave it alone for a while.  Come back to it later with a fresh mind and a fresh eye. Have you said too much or too little? 

“Most good writing is concise…Here’s your chance to delete unnecessary words, find one precise image to replace a clutter of abstractions, and remove anything that can be taken out without loss to meaning or overall effect of the poem…There is usually room for compression even in an advanced poem." (Theodore Deppe)


Thursday, 2 February 2012

The truth in poetry

There is some dispute over whether confessional poetry always has to remain true to the facts being written about. My stance would be that if you are writing an autobiography in verse then you should try and stay true to the facts as you know them, however, for individual poems it is better to say true to the poem itself.

Many beginner poets (and more established writers!) get hung up about writing about an event exactly as they remember it –

Say you want to write about a particular road trip that you went on as a child – in writing the poem you want to somehow recapture the feeling that being on the road trip gave you.  You start writing your poem but a few drafts down the line you find it is still not quite working.
You take the poem to a work-shopping group and are flummoxed when they don’t quite “get” the poem; they suggest taking some of the details out. You are resistant because you have written events exactly as they happened.

At this point it is clear that the poem is not working as it is and you need to make a decision – the poem is trying to capture a feeling, and that feeling might be better evoked by changing or eliminating some of the facts – facts that are not serving the purpose of the poem. Your other choice is to try and re-write the poem or write the experience as prose where chronological order and the facts are more important.  It’s a tough choice but as you become more experienced as a writer you realise that your writing moves beyond you anyway and it becomes easier to not be so precious about the initial inspiration for a poem and recognize that the poem has grown and evolved into a being all of its own.

My own writing improved tremendously when I stopped writing in such a personal way. It’s not that I no longer write personal poetry - I do, but I write it in a different way. It no longer beats you about the head with its personalness  - one of my MA tutors described it as relentlessly personal – personal to the point in which it excluded the reader. If you are writing to be read - and let’s be honest most people are, then you want your poem to speak to the reader and for them to be moved by it. This is what some writers call the greater truth of writing – the poem might not be entirely true (or true at all!) but if the reader believes in it then it has a universal truth.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Books read in 2011 (last first)

68) Fugitive Pieces - Anne Michaels ( fiction - re-read)

67) Selected Poetry - Jenny Joseph (poetry)

66) Signs Around a Dead Body - Deryn Rees-Jones (poetry)

65) Vintage Sea - Marion McCready (poetry)

64) The Rings of Saturn - W.G. Seabold (non fiction)

63) Releasing Stone - David Morley (poetry)

62) A Time of Gifts - Patrick Leigh Fermor (non-fiction)

61) Off Road to Everywhere - Philip Gross (poetry)

60) Aged Fourteen My Grandfather Runs Away to Sea - Matt Kirkham (poetry)

59) Another Use of Canvas - Angus Sinclair (poetry)

58) The History of Love - Nicole Krauss (fiction)

57) Ordering the Storm - How to Put Together a Book of Poems - Susan Grimm (ed.) (poetry)

56) Terry Street - Douglas Dunn (poetry)

55) Spacecraft Voyager 1: New and Selected Poems - Alice Oswald (poetry)

54) Four Poets - UEA Creative Writing anthology 2011 (poetry)

53) Break no Bones - Kathy Reichs (fiction)

52) Knots and Crosses - Ian Rankin (fiction)

51) Black Cat Bone - John Burnside (poetry)

50) When God was a Rabbit - Sarah Winman (fiction)

49) The Water Table - Philip Gross (poetry, re-read)

48) Deepstep Come Shining - C.D. Wright (poetry)

47) Kennedy's Brain - Henning Mankell (fiction)

46) Rapture - Carol Ann Duffy (poetry)

45) Book of Matches - Simon Armitage (poetry)

44) Full Indian Rope Trick - Colette Bryce (poetry)

43) Unseen - Mari Jungstedt (fiction)

42) The Wasteland and Other Poems - T.S. Eliot (poetry)

41) The Good Angel of Death - Andrey Kurkov (fiction)

40) Slattern - Kate Clanchy (poetry)

39) Something and Nothing - Lynn Woollacott (poetry)

38) Ghost Light - Joseph O'Connor (fiction)

37) Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis - Wendy Cope (poetry, re-read)

36) A Sampler - Partrick Yarker (poetry)

35) Escaping the Cage - Kate Scott (poetry)

34) After the Fire, A Still Small Voice - Evie Wyld (Fiction)

33) The Heel of Bernadette - Colette Bryce (poetry)

32) Seeing Stars - Simon Armitage (poetry - re-read)

31) What the Water gave Me - Pascale Petit (poetry)

30) The Triggering Town, Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing - Richard Hugo (non fiction)

29) Dog Language - Chase Twichell (poetry)

28) Nasty Little Intro #1 - Hannah Jane Walker (poetry)

27) Miming Silence - Bernadette Cremin (poetry)

26) How Not to Get Your Poetry Published - Helena Nelson (non fiction)

25) Corpus - Michael Symmons Roberts (poetry)

24) One Eye'd Leigh - Katherine Kilalea (poetry)

23) Ararat - Louise Gluck (poetry)

22) MUDe - John Redmond (poetry)

21) District and Circle - Seamus Heaney (re-read -poetry)

20) Enchantment - David Morley (poetry)

19) The Suitable Girl - Michelle Mcgrane (poetry)

18) A ha, 10 Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit... - Jordan Ayan (non fiction)

17) The Wild Iris - Louise Gluck (poetry)

16) Electric Shadow - Heidi Williamson (poetry)

15) The Meanest Flower - Mimi Khalvati (poetry)

14) In the Country of Men - Hisham Matar (fiction)

13) Faber New Poets 6 - Annie Katchinska (poetry)

12) Faber New Poets 5 - Joe Dunthorne (poetry)

11) Faber New Poets 7 - Sam Riviere (poetry)

10) Shadow Tag - Louise Erdrich (fiction)

9) The Ghost Orchid - Michael Longley (poetry)

8) Legion - David Harsent (poetry)

7) Rachel Hore - The Memory Garden (fiction)

6) Double Vision - Pat Barker (fiction)

5) Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro (fiction)

4) Captain Starlight's Apprentice - Kathryn Heyman (fiction)

3) Rain - Don Paterson (poetry)

2) Look We Have Coming to Dover  - Daljit Nagra (poetry)

1) Things We Didn't see Coming - Steven Amsterdam (fiction)