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Welcome to Adam Ford's monthly newsletter about his "adventures" in the "world" of "poetry".
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Hi. My name's Adam. I'm a poet. You may actually know that but anyway, hi. I'm making a shift from blogging to email newsletters as my main promotional platform and sending this to you because thought you might be interested, maybe.

This is the first in a series of monthly emails about what I've been writing and who's been publishing it. If you're not interested, my sincerest apologies for the intrusion. There are instructions on how to make sure you don't get any more of these at the bottom of this email.

Anyway, here we go.
You may be wondering what is in this here newsletter:
  • 2015 in review: I quit my novel & wrote poems & articles instead
  • What I'm working on: robots & interactive space whales
  • Submissions & rejections: including a rave about Robert Pinsky
  • What's out soon: geology zines & giant monster romances
  • What I'm reading: Nathan Curnow, Ted Hughes, Ovid & Lisa Jacobson

2015 in review


Okay, so this is the start of a new year and the start of a new approach to self-promotion, so it seems appropriate to kick off with a look back at the year that, as they say, "was".
 
When I first typed the above heading it said "2105 in review", but I didn't want to get ahead of myself so I corrected it. Anyway, there's not much you say about 2105 that hasn't already been said. Suffice it to say that flying cars and artifical intelligence are the least of the problems we had to deal with.
 
So let's wind back 90 years and have a little bit of a review of the last 365 or thereabouts.
 

I am a poet


Probably the biggest thing that happened in 2015 in terms of my writing was my decision late in the year to finally actually really no I mean it stop writing the novel I'd been slogging away at on and off since 2000.
 
See, I had this revelation about the plot that relegated pretty much every word I'd written so far to the unwritten backstory of a minor character in the novel. It was a really good idea, but following through on that idea meant starting the novel again from scratch. This was such a heart-breaking and mind-numbing task that I finally felt as though I'd found the justification I'd been looking for that would let me walk away from a self-imposed task that I'd grown to deeply hate and fear.
 
Pretty soon after that I went off on a short writing retreat and spent three days writing poems for a couple of manuscripts I wanted to submit to some competitions. I had an absolute ball while I was away, listening to heaps of poetry, reading heaps of poetry and actually writing some too. I dug out a bunch of old unfinished poems and finally got a bunch them working. I even wrote a couple of brand new ones too. The whole experience was a reminder of the fact that writing can be a joyful experience, and that I get the most joy out of writing poetry.
 
I wrote about the whole novel-quitting-love-of-poetry-rediscovering experience for Writers Bloc - you can check out the article here.
 

People who were nice enough to publish me


2015 was a lean year for actually getting stuff published. I had a total of one single poem published, which was this thing called "Anti-RomCom Pop Song" that came out in the Australian Poetry Journal. 
 
I also got shortlisted for the Whitmore Press manuscript prize. Which was nice. The four new poems I submitted all came out of the above writing retreat. Which was also nice.

Getting shortlisted was a great affirmation that I'm choosing to take as an indication that this refocusing on poetry thing might not be the dumbest idea I've ever had.
 
In the not-poetry stakes, I had a few more things published: Even though it was a quiet year, I'm actually pretty pleased with how it all turned out. Response to the things I did get published were good and, now that my novel manuscript is behind me, 2016 feels like a year in which I can write a whole lot more poems and focus on getting a bunch of smaller, discrete projects finished. I'm also really interested in having a crack at a few more opinion articles and reviews.

Work in progress

 
So here are the main projects I'm currently devoting my energy to:
 

Super Giant Combatron Mega 7

 
Super Giant Combatron Mega 7 is a weird little thing I've been working on for about five years in collaboration with 7 other poets and an amazing graphic designer from Queensland.

It's a collection of transforming poems that can all be assembled into one single poem in the shape of a giant robot. It's a little bit complicated, but so far it seems to work. I've submitted the poems and a proposal document to McSweeneys and am now waiting to hear back from them. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime I'm also playing around with the idea of translating the sucker into Japanese and applying for an AsiaLink grant.
 

Must You Destroy the Space Whale?

 
"I Must Destroy the Space Whale" is a poem that appeared in Not Quite the Man for the Job back in 1998. I've been playing with a game engine called Twine to turn it into a sort of choose-your-own-adventure poem that lets you create your own reiteration of the original poem.
 
I recently hit a snag where I realised that if I kept on doubling the number of choices for every new line of the poem, I'd have to have written many hundreds of thousands of individual lines before I got to the 20th and last line of the poem.
 
While I am very curious to know what it would be like to push on through and embrace the factorial, I'm leaning toward ditching the double-it-every-time plan and coming up with another way to approach this branching-options-poetry.
 

And a bunch of other stuff

 
I'm also working on another article for Writers Bloc about consciously writing in a style that's not your own in order to get published, and a poem that (I think) is about espionage and exoplanetary exploration to submit to the Josephine Ulrich Poetry Prize.
 
Finally, I've just started reviewing for Bookslut again. I did one poetry review for them a few years ago, but stopped so that I could *ahem* concentrate on my novel. Now that that's not really a thing anymore, I thought a bit of reviewing would help me broaden my poetic horizons a bit (and also score me some free poetry books). My first commission is for a review of Ada Limon's Bright Dead Things.

I submit!

 
I've got a bit of stuff out there in the wild at the moment, waiting for responses from The New Yorker, Poetry, Overland, Southerly and Meanjin.
 
I also have a couple of competition entries out there: a mildly experimental bit about corporate counterterrorism that I entered in the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, and a 78-page manuscript of poems (again from the excellent retreat back in October) that I entered in the Tupelo Press Dorset Prize.
 
The Dorset prize is publication, $US3000 and a residency, but the thing I'm most excited about is that the judge is ROBERT FUCKING PINSKY, ex-Poet Laureate, founder of the Favourite Poems project and author of, among other things, the amazing "Shirt". Even the intimation that Mr. P might intone one of my poems aloud while assessing entries on the other side of the globe is pretty darn inspiring, let me tell you.
 

Why don't you like me? Nobody likes me!

 
I also got a couple of rejections last month. The first was from Gig Ryan at the Age, who knocked back three poems nice and quick (i.e., within a couple of days). I always like a quick turnaround, positive or negative. It lets you move on and avoid long stretches of every decent poem being tied up with someone or another.
 
Gig also mentioned that she's only publishing 26 poems a year now, and that the maximum line length she can accept is 21 lines, which includes stanza breaks. Which was both frightening and good to know.
 
The other knock-back was from the Canary Press, who didn't want my sequence of prose poems about false Australian histories that tie in with the history of various AFL teams. They wrote the most wonderful and personal rejection email that was downright friendly and encouraging. Bless their hearts. Their sports issue is out now and you should definitely buy it.

Watch this space for forthcoming stuff

 
Now comes the part where I announce stuff that you could keep an eye out for if you want to read things that I wrote and such.
 

Anticline

 
I've just finished making a teeny-tiny poetry zine about Castlemaine's anticlinal fold, an odd rock outcropping shaped kind of like a rainbow. It's located a couple of blocks from the centre of town and has its own plaque and street sign and everything. I've made a little zine-holder and am going to affix it to said anticlinal fold some time this week so that folks who take the time to visit, or stop for a moment as they pass, might find these zines waiting for them and take one home so they can read a little paean to geology whenever they so wish.
 
If you're going to be in the area, you'll find the anticlinal fold just off the corner of Lyttleton and Urquhart Streets. Hopefully the zines will be there waiting for you.
 
If not, I'm planning on stocking the zines at the Sticky Institute in Melbourne, at Stoneman's Bookroom in Castlemaine, and at the Castlemaine Visitor's Centre. Google them for an address and keep an eye out.
 

Giant monster romance

 
I also have a story coming out in the Mammoth Book of Kaiju Stories, an old story I wrote about a guy whose dates keep getting mucked around by giant godzilla-type monsters. It's such an old story that it features seven dates and no swiping whatsoever.

It was originally published in a book called Daikaiju! Giant Monster Stories, and the editor of that collection kindly forwarded it to the Mammoth team for inclusion.
 

I know nothing about astronomy

 
Finally, I have a poem called "That was Mars I'm Sure of It" coming out in a future edition of Seizure, a fantastic Sydney-based online journal. I'm not sure when it's going to be published, but it's been accepted and the editor has assured me it will come out, but she's at the bottom of a Ph.D rabbit-hole right now so I'm not going to hassle her for exact dates.

Poems I'm reading

 
Currently I'm reading Nathan Curnow's Ghost Poetry Project, which is about visiting a bunch of haunted hotels and jails and train tunnels, staying the night and writing poems about it. It's lovely. This morning at breakfast I read about Nathan jumping out of the way of a ghost train. Good stuff.
 
I'm also reading Ted Hughes's Tales from Ovid as part of my ongoing bid to read a potted version of the western poetry canon from start to finish. So far I've read Gilgamesh, the Rig Veda, The Iliad and Beowulf. Tales from Ovid is a cracking read, funny and saucy and tragic all at once. Favourite poem so far is the one where the arrogant teenaged son of the god of the Sun convinces his dad to let him drive the chariot that pulls the Sun and totally bollockses it so badly that Jupiter has to nuke the kid with a thunderbolt to stop the whole Earth from catching fire.
 
Finally I'm re-reading Lisa Jacobson's The Sunlit Zone because there's a little voice in my head suggesting that I might want to consider re-imagining my dead novel as a verse novel maybe, and I want to have a closer look at how other poets have tackled the verse novel thing. Jacobson's approach is really interesting, with a fairly strict metre running through the entire book, making it read more like, say, Heaney's Beowulf translation than Dorothy Porter's The Monkey's Mask. I like that she's decided to take this path - it puts a little more rigor into the verse aspect of the verse novel form.

What this is and why you got it

 
This is a monthly newsletter about the writerly comings and goings of the poet Adam Ford. Which is me. You're receiving this either because you signed up for it or because I thought that you might be interested in what I'm up to with my writing.
 
If you don't want to keep receiving these emails please use the handy one-click Mail Chimp instructions below to unsubscribe and I will hassle you no longer. Thanks for your time.

If you've got any thoughts or suggestions or comments I'd love to hear from you. Either reply to this newsletter or send an email to adamatsya@gmail.com.
 
For samples of my writing (as in, not of the newsletter variety) you can check out my website at theotheradamford.wordpress.com. I'm also on twitter at twitter.com/adamatsya or instagram at instagram.com/adamatsya.
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