Get Published – Advice for Young Poets

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Young Poets Network - get publishedI returned to my old home town of Colchester recently to give a talk at one of my old schools, and was asked by a young poet there how to get published. Specifically,

  • which are the best magazines or journals to submit to when you want to get published?

and

  • is there any way of getting past the shredder other than the poems themselves being very good?

So I thought I’d lay out a few useful pointers for young poets looking to make their way in the world. Read more

Me and My Big Mouth

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Alliteration alert. I’m a pretty positive person nowadays. It’s policy not to carp, criticize or complain.

I broke that rule in my last post. And what happened? Within hours I had developed a stinker of a cold (the first for two years) and the next day a motorist opened their door and knocked me off my bike. I take that as reasonable feedback. Do what you want with your public art projects. I’ll find of way of getting peaceful with it.

In the meantime, here’s me spouting off again. Many thanks, as ever, to Tim Pieraccini.

The Marlowe Papers at Wantage Betjeman Festival

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Vale & Download Museum, Wantage

Workshop  1-3pm   £10

Reading      6pm        £6/£4

Ros Barber’s critically acclaimed verse novel The Marlowe Papers has been called ‘the best read, so far, this year’ (Sunday Express), ‘elegant and charmingly playful’ (Sunday Telegraph), ‘a thrilling alternate version of Marlowe’s life’ (Observer) and ‘a gripping addition to the authorship debate’ (The Times).  It has also been hailed as ‘surprisingly accessible’ (Time Out) and ‘as excitingly plotted as any holiday thriller… The Marlowe Papers thunders along like an episode of some Elizabethan 24’ (Literary Review).  
Ros herself is renowned for the entertaining and powerful quality of her live readings.  Come and hear Ros read from, and talk about, The Marlowe Papers at Wantage Betjeman Festival on Tuesday 30 October at 6pm.  Questions on the research behind the novel (e.g. Elizabethan spy networks) and the process of getting a verse novel published by a mainstream publisher are very welcome.   You can hear an extract of Ros reading The Marlowe Papers, and download a free mp3 audio of the opening chapter, at www.rosbarber.com.  More details, and online ticket booking here: http://bit.ly/TfGj6x

The Marlowe Papers was joint winner of the Hoffmann Prize in 2011. It was published by Sceptre (Hodder & Stoughton) in May 2012 and will be published in the US by St Martin’s Press (Macmillan) in January.
Ros will also be running a poetry workshop from 1pm-3pm.  Tickets (£10) to be booked separately.

The Marlowe Papers at the Dylan Thomas Festival 2012

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Wednesday, 7 November, 7.30pm

Ros Barber and Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch at the Dylan Thomas Festival 2012

Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch’s acclaimed third collection, Banjo (Picador), commemorates the arrival of Captain Scott at the South Pole in 1912, exploring the way in which music and theatre enabled the ice-bound communities to survive. Ros Barber’s The Marlowe Papers (Sceptre) is an extraordinary novel in verse, telling Christopher Marlowe’s alternative story, in which he is exiled to France and writes plays and poetry under the name William Shakespeare. Both will be reading from their work at the Dylan Thomas Festival 2012.

Ros Barber’s critically acclaimed verse novel The Marlowe Papers has been called ‘the best read, so far, this year’ (Sunday Express), ‘elegant and charmingly playful’ (Sunday Telegraph), ‘a thrilling alternate version of Marlowe’s life’ (Observer) and ‘a gripping addition to the authorship debate’ (The Times).  It has also been hailed as ‘surprisingly accessible’ (Time Out) and ‘as excitingly plotted as any holiday thriller… The Marlowe Papers thunders along like an episode of some Elizabethan 24’ (Literary Review).

Ros herself is renowned for the entertaining and powerful quality of her live readings.  Come and hear Ros read from, and talk about, The Marlowe Papers at the Dylan Thomas Festival 2012 in Swansea on Wednesday 7  November at 7.30 pm.  Questions on the research behind the novel (e.g. Elizabethan spy networks) and the process of getting a verse novel published by a mainstream publisher are very welcome.   You can hear an extract of Ros reading The Marlowe Papers, and download a free mp3 audio of the opening chapter, at www.rosbarber.com.
The Marlowe Papers was joint winner of the Hoffmann Prize in 2011. It was published by Sceptre (Hodder & Stoughton) in May 2012 and will be published in the US by St Martin’s Press (Macmillan) in January 2013.

Full Price: £6 Concessions: £4.20 Swansea PTL: £2.40

You can buy tickets online (a small booking fee applies) for Dylan Thomas Festival events or ring  01792 463980.

Reading in Nayland, Suffolk

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Signed copies of The Marlowe Papers will be sale here The Marlowe Papers near Colchester

Ros is returning to her old stomping ground to read from The Marlowe Papers at Stoke By Nayland on Thursday 20 September. The Independent said of her book this month:

“Treason, heresy, espionage, counterfeiting, brawling and some lusty but distinctly illegal ménages à trois are all thrown into the mix, with a spritz of gallows humour.

Themes of identity and self-esteem, of truth and loyalty, give substance to Barber’s enthralling plot in a work that combines historical erudition with a sharply satisfying read. Marlowe’s passion infects the page; Barber’s skill draws the fever.”

– The Independent, Sept 11 2012

Ros will be reading from The Marlowe Papers, answering questions about it, and generally catching up with old pals at this charming establishment of David Charleston’s:

The Open Road Bookshop
Park Street
Stoke-by-Nayland
Suffolk
CO6 4SE

on Thursday 20 September 2012
7pm – 8pm

FREE

Do come along if you’re in the vicinity.

Crap Writing in Public Art Projects

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crap writing in public art projectsIf you’ve been to the British Library recently, you’ll notice there are new words on the walls in the cafe and restaurant. These words are the result of the ‘Writing London’ project.  They were produced by young people aged 18-21 supported by the Foyer Foundation, who worked with a writer, artist and photographer to respond to their environment.  The project was funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.  Nothing I’m about to write is intended as a criticism of the young people or the poet involved. I completely understand the well-meaning intentions of public art projects of this sort, having been involved in similar projects myself over the years.  It is a Good Thing to engage young people in a creative process and to help them feel more empowered in their own expression.  Everyone has to start somewhere. However, I can’t agree with the increased tendency of such projects to plaster the words of absolute beginners onto public spaces.

No-one dares speak up about this. We live in an age where competitive sports are avoided in primary schools, where everyone gets a certificate for taking part but no-one comes first, where We Are All Winners.  But if the very first thing one ever writes is deemed good enough to adorn the public spaces of the British Library, why bother ever writing anything else?  You have achieved a writing pinnacle.  You’ve proved to yourself is that this writing thing is piss-easy; so easy that it has no value.

Let me give you some examples of the phrases that filled my heart with despair.  This runs along the wall of the cafe:

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Getting it Wrong

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One of the reasons I took solace in writing from an early age is because I experienced myself as a social incompetent.  Starting with my family of origin, and largely due to the mess of the situation I found myself growing up in, I found people generally difficult: I was always getting it wrong, saying the wrong thing, provoking unwanted reactions.   I had things I wanted to say, but opening my mouth and saying them proved, on the whole, to be a terrible mistake, so I would go away to a quiet corner and write them down. And then rewrite them. Again, and again, until I got it right and had found a form of expression that could not be argued with. Like a poem. Or a story.

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New Blood and Flooding

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As a friend of mine posted on Facebook recently, ‘summer this year was on a Tuesday’.  The creative Yorkshire enclave of Hebden Bridge has experienced a particularly British summer this year, and the week before we arrived for the New Blood (New Novelists) event at Hebden Bridge Arts festival had suffered serious flooding.  One result of this was that Sophie Coulombeau and I, who met for the first time for a cup tea before the cafe closed (forcing us to shelter from the light drizzle in the White Swan) failed to eat before eating ceased to be an option.  In the Swan we bumped into Peter Salmon, who recognised us as fellow New Novelists from the fact that our we all simultaneously received a text from the organiser.  He had wisely (as it turned out, though we weren’t sure at the time) opted for the pub’s fish pie.

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Marlowe Talk & Reading at The Rose Theatre, London

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The Rose Theatre, Bankside, LondonThe Marlowe Papers – London reading

On Sunday Sept 30th, Ros Barber will read from and talk about The Marlowe Papers.  The event will be held in the wonderful historic setting of the excavated footings of the original Rose Theatre, not far from The Globe on the south bank of the Thames.  Ros will read from The Marlowe Papers and talk about her re-imagined life of the Elizabethan poet and playwright.

This is the only reading in London this year since the sell-out launch event at the British Library in May.  Critically acclaimed verse novel The Marlowe Papers, written entirely in iambic pentameter, was joint winner of the Hoffmann Prize 2011.  Described as  ‘a striking performer of her own poems’, this promises to be a powerful reading in the spot where Kit Marlowe’s plays were first performed in London and is not to be missed.

“This is the most complete Marlowe I’ve ever encountered.” – Will Self

“Ros Barber’s work is exquisitely honed in meter and metaphor — she makes the iambic pentameter sound as if she just invented it.  Her voice is an instrument of creativity, intellect and emotion. Her performance at Pure Poetry was one of the most memorable I have seen in fifteen years.” – Patience Agbabi

“Wonderful poetry, incorporating fantastic imagery, and an accomplished direct stage manner.” –  John Agard

“Ros Barber doesn’t read so much as put her whole personal, emotional creativity into sharing her words. From the outset the audience were transfixed. For me, it was a whole new experience in the immediacy of a creative mind connecting with people.” –  Andrew Fitch, “Booktalk”

Organised by The Marlowe Society: contact them for details/tickets.

Sunday 30th September

11am

Other Voices Other Times Conference, Bath

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Conference: Other Voices Other Times

Title of Paper: Resurrecting Marlowe

Abstract:

The Marlowe Papers (Sceptre, 2012) is the fictional autobiography of sixteenth century playwright Christopher Marlowe and is a novel written entirely in blank verse.  In this presentation I will share the processes that led to its construction over a four year period and which facilitated the development of an authentic voice for the protagonist and the creation of a believable and inhabitable Elizabethan world.The following questions will be addressed. How does one ‘become’ Marlowe and speak – in a way that seems genuine – from the perspective of a four-hundred-year-old dead man?  How does one develop a vocabulary and tone that sounds authentically Elizabethan whilst staying within the readable confines of contemporary English? What decisions were necessary to strike the right balance between authenticity and readability?  What was learnt etymologically from the process of weeding out anachronisms in the text?  What level of research is necessary?  How are gaps in historical knowledge filled for modern readers through a first person narrator to whom such detail needs no description, being the background of everyday existence?

The Marlowe Papers resurrects Marlowe in more than one sense, not only appearing to bring him back to life so that he can tell his own story, but taking the line that his apparent death in Deptford was staged in order for him to escape capital charges of atheism and heresy, fleeing to a life of exile abroad, with his subsequent writing appearing under the pen-name William Shakespeare.  How does a construction of Marlowe that didn’t die at Deptford differ from the conventional construction of one who did?  And how does one overcome the massive act of hubris that becomes apparent when you realise you must write not only as if you are Marlowe, but as if you are the author of the greatest works of literature of all time?

See othervoicesothertimes.com

Venue: Bath Spa University

Time: 11am (conference 9am – 5pm)