Time for an annual stocktake.
This time three years ago, I had never taken part in a slam or other spoken word event. This time two and a half years ago, I was so despondent after my first few months of doing atrociously at slams that I thought I was probably too congenitally untalented to carry on and that if I did, I would always be viewed as an incompetent amateur who was just humiliating herself by forcing audiences to listen to her drivel. Yet, this year I competed in the Hammer and Tongue National Final at the Royal Albert Hall and was asked to perform feature sets at spoken word nights all across the south west.
This time four years ago, I had never had a poem published in a credible literary journal. Although I had dreams of putting out a collection one day, at best it seemed like something that would only happen many decades down the line, at worst it seemed like an unrealistic fantasy that could never come true. Yet, this year, I have had poems published and/or accepted by journals including Prole, The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed With Pipework, Ink Sweat and Tears, Clear Poetry, Amaryllis and Algebra of Owls and had my first collection accepted by Oversteps Books to be published (hopefully) next year.
This time 10 years ago, I hadn’t written much poetry since I left school twenty years previously and didn’t think of myself as a poet, at all. Now I write and/or perform poetry most weeks, read and/or listen to poetry almost every day and it’s a core part of my identity. I have made so many precious friends through the durable social adhesive of poetry.
I’m not just showing off here. Truth is, I remain deeply frustrated and unhappy with much in my poetry life (the poems I’m not happy with, the prestigious journals that have serially rejected me, the gigs I haven’t been offered or have fucked up, the audiences that didn’t like me or, even worse, were vaguely lukewarm, the poets who have defriended me on social media or snubbed my friend request in the first place…) and with almost everything in every other aspect of my life, and I’m cheering myself up because I don’t think I’m good enough, rather than bragging because I think I’m so wonderful.
But I’m also posting this to let other people who have a fragile, unconfident ambition know, and to remind myself, that success comes one small step at a time and if you keep plugging away at it, you will see results. Change can happen.
Happy Christmas, everyone.