So, I’ve just submitted my six poems for the fourth module of my MA. I’ve got a dissertation to write between now and December (which is basically 15-20 more poems). However, the taught component is done, so essentially it’s time to figure out the next thing.
Doing the MA was a suggestion from my sister, two years ago. At that time I was doing a job I didn’t like, not enough creative work, and needed a change. The MA has helped me consider writing and creative work as a core part of how I approach the world, yet I am more aware than ever that it’s important to be a person outside of that. Also, I now have a clutch of poems that I’m confident enough about to send out to meet magazines and such, which is cool.
The massive downside of doing a master’s is that it’s financially draining, so I’m looking new job to alleviate that. (My application to work on Doctor Who was sadly rejected, probably due to my clear lack of experience of doing anything like that.) It could be here in Manchester, it could be back in Leicester, but essentially I’m happy to land anywhere. Having moved house at least once a year since 2010, I’m fairly flexible when it comes to packing my shit up and putting it down elsewhere. (My parents contend that I should have less shit.) It all depends on who wants me really.
The other side of change, however, is the things you have to leave behind – in this case, conceptually speaking. Last year I put out an ashcan called blip as a sort of Viking funeral for a bunch of old poems that sat together quite nicely, but I didn’t feel was representative of what I currently do. When I put it together, there were some poems left over from that period that didn’t really fit into that collection. The time has come to give them their time in the sun.
From May 16-31, Acme Aunt and other poems can be downloaded for free by clicking the front cover below.
This is a collection of poems that I’m fond of. I’ve read them at open mics, shown them to friends, put them on the blog, and overall I think this ashcan stands up pretty well. It starts with a poem I wrote for an undergraduate module in Creative Writing, and ends with the first poem I wrote for my MA. Some of them simply didn’t fit the last collection, others I was revising up to the middle of last year.
A quick word about my process: I save each revision of a poem as a new file, and date it. Old drafts go to the drafts folder, new drafts stay in To Revise, and finally they migrate from there into Finished, if I think they’re good (and then Published if I’m lucky), or Abandoned, if not. I periodically audit these folders, and this ashcan comes from the feeling that these poems are Finished, but I don’t want to send them out to magazines, because they’re not representative of what I currently do. I see these ashcans as the demo tapes you can sometimes find from bands, that have all the songs that didn’t make it to the first album or EP, so it should be enjoyed in that spirit.
“Acme Aunt” was first published in the University of Leicester’s magazine The New Luciad, way back in 2013. I might have put a few of these on the blog, but the rest are essentially unpublished. The ashcan will be up for about two weeks, then disappear forever, in stark defiance of the idea that digital data is permanent (although it won’t delete from your computers after two weeks, don’t worry).
The pdf file is here. It’s screen-readable, but formatted for A5 if you need to print it out. I’m asking politely that you don’t sell it on, but mainly because I have to, not because I think I’m in danger of it happening, or that I could do much about it if you did. Be cool, though.
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Between blip and Acme Aunt, I’ve burnt through pretty much all of my good poems from before I started the MA, so I don’t see another ashcan on the horizon. From here on in, I’m going to Get Serious about sending my poems out to magazines and such, so hopefully that’s where they’ll next pop up. Otherwise, enjoy these, and we’ll speak soon.