The Lazy Chap’s Guide To Poetry Competition Judging

Road o Clevedon Pier AnthologyI’m not sure that I’ve ever felt quite as popular as I did last weekend, what with Submissions for Arfur and the deadline for the Anthology Competition falling – emails every minute or two and all filled with poetry.

It is down to earth this week though, as I suddenly realised that it was ‘over to me’ and that I needed to get on with it.

I’d kind of been keeping an eye on the submissions for Arfur, and so felt it was better to go for the unopened tin that was the ‘Road to Clevedon Pier’ competition first instead, and my god there was a fair old pile of them.

I did think I should probably explain the approach (in the interests of transparency and a vague hope of sympathy,) so this is how it has gone:

  1. All of the entries were printed and coded, and left ‘unnamed’. I feel bad about the printing, but there we are, I hate reading poetry on screen and well, I’m a Luddite, what can I say.
  2. I read all of the poems one at a time, not to sift or sort them or otherwise get myself organised, but just to see if any grabbed me. At this point I deliberately didn’t want to think about it all as a competition, instead just read and enjoy.
  3. From there, I had a day off. I’m quite lazy, really.
  4. I read all of the entries again, this time more critically and ended-up with a pile of ‘possibles’ and another of ‘sadly nots.’
  5. I panicked a little as the ‘possibles’ towered over the ‘sadly nots’.
  6. I thought I’d better read them again. But took the rest of the day off first.
  7. I read them all again and this time ended-up with a smaller ‘possibles’ pile, which I then managed to split into  ‘probably’ and a ‘probably not, though I’m still not 100%’ piles. I felt as though I was getting somewhere now.
  8. I took another day off as this was becoming like hard work and I wasn’t sure I’d signed-up for that.
  9. I read them all again and started binary sorting them (I always knew that Computer Studies CSE would come in handy one day) and then somehow I ended-up with a longlist. These will be the ones that appear in the anthology.
  10. I definitely took the rest of that day off at this point.
  11. From there it was easy and I soon found my three poem shortlist.

And that is where we currently are. I just need to pick a winner, but unfortunately it is from three poems that I have totally fallen in love with.

Decisions, decisions. What to do?

Well, take the weekend off, clearly, and work it out on Monday.

The interesting thing is that I still don’t know who has written the poems as I’m leaving that ‘pull back the curtain’ moment until I pick the overall winner.

Oh, and I can’t seem to lay my hand on the list that matches poet to poem. But it is here, somewhere. I’m sure it is (ahem.)

I would like to thank everybody who entered, you have written some really fine poetry, i just wish it wasn’t such hard work.

Thank You

I just wanted to say thank you to everybody that submitted their work to our new magazine ‘A Restricted View From Under The Hedge’ and/or entered the ‘Road To Clevedon Pier’ Anthology Competition.

It is only three months since we decided to start a press and I can’t help but be amazed at just how much friendly support and good wishes we have received so far, and it is all a little humbling in truth.

But more importantly, we’re aiming to have the competition judged, the selection for issue #1 of the magazine settled quick and smart and hopefully create something worthy of your time.

Oscar speech over,
work starting.

Maybe some coffee first.

Lost Weekend

Lord knows I’m not one to nag – I’m really not – but I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t just mention, one-last-time, that this is the final weekend for you to be able to:

  1. Submit your poems for consideration for the first issue of ‘A Restricted View From Under The Hedge’. There are no reading fees, no theme and we are totally open to all types and forms of poetry,  and
  2. Enter our Anthology Competition, ‘The Road To Clevedon Pier’ for the chance to win some money, and to see your poetry appear in our first ever book, among other things.

Both end on Monday the 15th of January at a smidgeon before midnight.

For those that I managed to confuse, the Collection competition – ‘A Slim Volume of One’s Own’ doesn’t end until the 15th of March.

That costs £25 to enter, but if you are a member of the ‘Cult of the Spiny ‘Hog’ which also costs £25 to join, you can enter as many times as you like for no further pennies.

i.e. Join the Cult for £25, enter both competitions as many times as you like and get both the Anthology and the Magazine for not a penny more. Also get invited to various writing prompts and contests that are exclusive to the Cult.

All for exactly the same price as entering the Collection competition.

There is a clue there.

No strings

No catches

No commitment.

Counting Backwards (To Christmas)

Happy New Year, although to be totally honest all of those festivities are already fading as the sheer terror of a deadline creeping up on me becomes apparent.

Yes, it seemed a million miles away, but it in terms of the deadlines of submissions for Arfur, and entries for the ‘The Road To Clevedon Pier’ anthology competition the sands have nearly all squeezed through the gap.

No, I’ve lost my thread too.

Regardless of all that, here is a quick reminder that if you wanted to submit a poem for the first issue of ‘A Restricted View From Under the Hedge’ or if you wanted to enter our Anthology competition, the deadlines for both are the 15th of January.

That was all, really.

Making Plans For Arfur: Stalking Sandra Beasley (From The Heart)

One of the poetry collections I constantly return to that was published over the last few years is Sandra Beasley’s quite brilliant ‘Count the Waves.’ I won’t preempt the review in Arfur#1, but I don’t think the lady will be losing any sleep over it.

Anyway, it set me thinking about all of those poets out there who are putting collections together, and how there really isn’t an instruction book on how best to do it. I guess I’d always assumed that, like a band writing an album, poets sit down and write them start-to-end, or perhaps they write a lot of ‘singles’ and then collect them into their own 20-golden-greats-not-available-in-the-shops. Maybe they just take lots of drugs and Jam them in the studio, I don’t know.

I don’t get out much.

That was when I realised that I really didn’t know how they do it, and more to the point how you go about following-up a collection like Sandra’s. There is a certain pressure, I imagine.

So that is when I thought I would start to stalk Sandra Beasley. Which I guess gives a spin on ‘A Restricted View From Under The Hedge’ that I hadn’t really intended from the start.

Luckily, there is no need for any restraining orders as I did the decent thing and asked the lady herself whether we could all follow her as she works toward her next collection. This would be a series of articles in Arfur over however long it takes for the book to be completed, and we can see what is involved along the way.

So I’m pleased to say Arfur #1 sees us starting to follow Sandra’s progress, and all very uber cool it is too.

You can find out more about Sandra Here and you really should check out ‘Count The Waves’, There

Making Plans For Arfur: The Fabulous Mrs Oxley & Mrs Begg

Back in the mists of time, when I first discovered that there was a wonderful world of literary magazines and poetry that you never saw on the shelves of WH Smiths, there were two magazines that really opened my eyes to the fact that it was possible to have poetry written by living people, Acumen and Agenda. (I moved on from the ‘As’ later and yes, I know, I had a sheltered upbringing.)

When we started to decide what was going into our first issue of Arfur, the editors of these two fine magazines were top of my list to talk to and I was all rather pleased that they both agreed to give me a little of their time for a chat.

This week we finished our conversation with Patricia Oxley of Acumen and I’m pleased to say that it will be appearing in our first issue of Arfur.

To counterpoint this, I thought it would be a fine and somewhat dandy idea to also talk to the editor of the newest magazine I have discovered, the equally fabulous Charlotte Begg of Eye Flash Poetry. I raved about their own first issue a few weeks ago and going back to it (again and again)  it only gets better and to be totally honest I can’t wait for their second issue which I hope isn’t too far away. Our talk with Charlotte will also appear in issue #1.

You can find out more about Acumen Here and Eye Flash Poetry There.

 

Making Plans For Arfur: When Eileen Met Brian

We are starting to pull it all together now for the first issue of Arfur, and one of the real gems we have in there is an interview Eileen Carney Hulme did on behalf of the ‘Hog, with the rather wonderful Brian Patten.

I won’t spill the beans just yet, but I must admit it is many kinds of cool and Mr Patten is everything you would expect him to be, class personified.

You can find out what Brian is upto at the moment Here and Eileen is more in an over There direction.

 

Introducing “The Cult of the Spiny ‘Hog” – Join Today – Don’t Delay etc.

We talked about the fact that you can pre-order the Trade Edition of Arfur yesterday, and hinted that there will also be a more ‘Deluxe’ edition available.

So I’m pleased as an extremely punchy Punch to be able to tell you about our very own private members club, ‘The Cult of the Spiny ‘Hog,’ which a maximum of 100 poets will be able to join from today.

To the left of me you will hopefully be able to see our mock-up of the Limited Edition ‘Deluxe’ edition of Arfur that Cult members will receive. This again has a cover based on a Kanoe West painting, and when we get to the final printed version, it will be super deluxe in terms of papers and finish. It will also be Limited to 100 Copies, each of which will be hand numbered and stamped and definitely not available in the shops.

But the Cult is about a lot more than a different cover on a book, as what we really want is to find ourselves 100 poets who will join in with everything we do and then go out there and help us spread the word.

It is about finding a group of poets who are both Readers and Writers, and so that is how we have set the ‘Cult’ up. We want people to be readers of our magazines and books and to take part in the competitions and challenges and then tell people about them, good or ill.

A lot to ask, perhaps, and worryingly expensive, so part of it is that we want to make it as cheap and as much fun as we can for this core number of people.

We’ll give more details about the individual parts as the day(s) roll on, but from today we will be opening up so that 100 people can join our Cult of the Spiny ‘Hog’ and come February they will receive:

1. A Deluxe Cult Edition of Arfur.

To celebrate our first issue we are planning two variations of the magazine:

The Trade edition is the ‘Normal One’ you will buy in shops and as a pre-order, and will boast a cover based on a painting, ‘The Blue Hole’ the artist Kanoe West has done specifically for the magazine.

The “Deluxe Cult Edition” will feature a different cover based on a second West painting, ‘Migration’ and produced using different papers and finish.

The photo at the top of the page is of a mock-up of the Deluxe magazine. This edition will be limited to 100 copies and will be hand-numbered, stamped and only available to Cult members. No reprints or Ali-style comebacks.

2. The ‘Road To Clevedon Pier’ Anthology.

This will be the first book we publish, based on the entries to our Anthology competition and we definitely want to put a copy in the hands of our cult members.

This too will be a Cult Edition and limited to 100 numbered copies.

 

3. Our ‘Fauxlaroid’ Artcards

As with the pre-orders of the standard edition, our cult members will receive copies of our one-off ‘fauxlaroid’ artcards.

The ones in the photo are mock-ups, so may or may not be included in the final designs, but we have always loved finding old photos in second-hand books, and so we wanted to place a few of our own at random in each copy of Arfur.

Going forward we’ll keep doing this, but the Fauxlaroids will contain poems that come from challenges set for members of the Cult. More on that another day though.

4. Badges

Silly perhaps, but as we keep on saying, every revolution needs a badge, and we have designed a special ‘Founder Member’ Cult of the Spiny ‘Hog Badge, that will only be available to cult members who join us for the first issue of Arfur. They will also receive the ‘standard’ Arfur badge, which I completely forgot to order and hence isn’t pictured here (oops.)

 

5. Anthology Competition

It is really important to us that our cult members are writers of poetry, and so each will receive a free entry into an anthology competition of their choice. This and the collection competition are a big part of the ‘Cult’ as we want people who are writers as well as readers, and the competitions are only the first part of this.

 

6. Collection Competition:

As with the anthology competition, we would love all of our cult members to enter one of our collection competitions, and so they will receive a free entry for one of their choice. Our current Collection Competition costs the same to enter as it does to join the Cult, so if you were planning to enter it – this is the best way (as basically the rest is coming free!)

7. Random Gifts For Cult Members

For the first issue, Kanoe West has donated one of his paintings – the one that is appearing on the cover of the cult edition of Arfur – and so we are planning to choose one of our members at random and send it to them. (It is just over A4, acrylic on canvas, so don’t worry that it will turn-up enormous…)

Similarly, we plan to randomly send all of the review copies of books, CDs and whatever else we review to cult members as gifts too.

We want to review a good number of books and pamphlets each issue once we get going and so it will be nice to spread these around our friends and see what they think of them.

The photo shows the current review pile, all of which will be sent to Cult members once the reviews are published. There will be more though, of that I’m sure.

8. Writing Challenges

I mentioned earlier in this post that we will be setting writing challenges to Cult members. The members themselves will get to choose the winners and things like which poems appear on future ‘Fauxlaroids’, but there will be other benefits along those lines too.

And that is about it.

Obviously, this is only a beginning and as I said we’ll put more detail up over the coming days about each of these things, but if you do want to join our lovely Cult of Poets, you can now do so HERE 

And whether you do or you don’t we would really appreciate it if you can help us spread the word. We realise we are starting from nowhere fast, and that we are scrabbling around in the shadows at the moment, so any chink of light you can share would be much appreciated.

Countdown to Arfur – Pre-Order News – Part One

I very much doubt it is a surprise, as I’m sure if you are reading this you are well aware of how it works with the smallest of small presses, but just in case I’ll say it anyway – if you want to support us wee publishers, it is much better to buy direct than through, for instance, the Amazons of this world, as however cool and handy they are, they take a whopping great chunk of the money you are paying.

Not that I begrudge them – although we want to make Arfur and our books available everywhere, so if you want to get them through a bookseller, I’d suggest an Indie everytime – but I won’t let that stop me trying to bribe sway you in this direction first.

We have few natural advantages, but I’ll shake my tailfeathers just a quickly as the next chap.

So tomorrow (Friday the 15th December) sees us opening the door for pre-ordering of the Trade Edition of Arfur. Yay!

This is the book you can see with the Kanoe West cover and it is the one you will be able to buy from Amazon, Waterstones and just about any bookshop (though I won’t kid you that they won’t have to order it in for you – the number of shops stocking unknown poetry magazines is teensy & wee.)

 

So why would you buy it from us?

Well, I’m glad you asked as there will be a couple of advantages:

  1. You will get the magazine sooner. I know I’m not meant to say that, but you will as I’ll be doing the posting, so there.
  2. You will get our lovely Fauxlaroids tucked into the pages of the magazine to stun and surprise you as they fall out and flutter around your feet.
  3. You will get a lovely Hedgehog Press Badge (not actually the one in the photo as I forgot to order the ones I’m talking about here, but it will be cool anyway.)
  4. It will be delivered to your door for a few quid cheaper than anybody else will charge for it as we would rather you saved some money than gave it to Amazon.
    And every little helps…

You will be able to pre-order Arfur from this web site tomorrow, hope to see you back here.

 

 

Countdown to Arfur – We Have Covers

We mentioned a little while ago that cult artist, Kanoe West, had agreed to paint a picture for us that we could use for the cover of Arfur.

Top chap that he is, when it came time for it to be delivered, he arrived with a choice of two for us.

Now, being a little on the greedy side of the tracks we somehow managed to talk him into letting us use both of the paintings for the cover of the magazine. Not one for the front and one for the back as I think he assumed, but instead we had decided to have two editions of the magazine to celebrate it’s launch, the Trade Edition which is the one that will be available all over the place, and then a second one that is for a Limited Edition, Deluxe edition of the magazine.

More on that later, but I’m pleased to unveil the painting and the Trade Edition of ‘A Restricted View From Under the Hedge’ here, for the very first time. In fact this is the first time that Kanoe has ever had one of his paintings appear on the interweb at all, as it really isn’t his thing.

Well, apart from maybe if you noticed the picture earlier on one of our Fauxlaroids (ahem.)

Thanks to Kanoe, the man is a hero.

p.s. The ‘magazine’ in the photo is a mock-up – there is still plenty of room for your poetry and we still want submissions…