Tag Archives: the terrible

Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch – the terrible

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4th February

I finally got to meet Daniel Sluman, a poet who I have read since 2014, when I first discovered his work. The name will be familiar because last year after a post on social media about how different the poetry circuit is for disabled poets promoting their work, I decided to promote Daniel’s new collection ‘the terrible’.

ds sluman

Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

In return Daniel gave up his time to feature as a Guest Writer (alongside Alison May and David Calcutt) in INKSPILL 2015, our annual online writing retreat. Find out more right here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/inkspill/

Daniel Sluman is a 29-year-old poet and disability rights activist based in Oxfordshire, UK. He gained a BA and MA in Creative Writing from the University of Gloucestershire, and has previously held editorial roles at Dead Ink, Iota, and the award-winning disability anthology FTW: Poets against Atos. He was named one of Huffington Post’s Top 5 British Poets to Watch in 2015, and his debut poetry collection Absence has a weight of its own was released by Nine Arches Press to critical acclaim in 2012. © Nine Arches Press 2016

I was excited about meeting the man behind the words and also getting my hands on a copy of ‘the terrible’ which I resisted buying online or at the 52 Book Launch. It is published by Nine Arches Press and you can buy your very own copy here.

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/the%20terrible.html

the terrible daniel sluman 

Daniel Sluman’s bleak brilliance in the terrible is a masterclass in the power of poetry to confront difficult subject matter with accuracy and painstaking openness. These are rigorous and exacting poems, that dare to go to some of the darkest places and speak with stark precision.

These poems may be stripped down, intense and utterly frank, but they are not without deep reserves of sincerity and beauty. Sluman writes of the heady cocktail of being alive, where loss, love, sex, close shaves with mortality and sharp narratives of pain and suffering are examined in concise and humane clarity.

© Nine Arches Press 2016

I knew getting to the venue after work in rush hour traffic would be an issue, so I spent the night before setting up the SATNAV (also Christmas gift c/o Mr G), however due to road works and not shoddy data input on my part, it took me up to the M6, which I knew was wrong, but have also learnt that I get lost when I don’t blindly follow the SATNAV. This added extra time on, but I did manage to park relatively close by and although I missed most of Daniel’s opening set in reality I hadn’t missed most of the book launch, which was my fear. Jane Commane recorded the part I missed and you can hear it too.

This event was open to the public, I was delighted to be invited by Daniel. Gregory Leadbetter (the Institute for Creative & Critical Writing) and Jane Commane (Editor/Publisherr – Nine Arches Press) hosted flawlessly. There were readings from David Clarke and Angela France and the event sold out. We were in a lovely large room just off the library at Birmingham City University. There was a great, buzzy atmosphere and lots of poets I know, and some I didn’t, all listening carefully and enjoying the work of these three fine Nine Arches poets.

It was great to meet Emily Brenchi too (Daniel’s fiancée and administrator) -as she is not gaining financially helping with postage and packaging duties as Daniel’s book makes it way around the country/ world in brown envelopes, I thought I would mention her efforts here. Nearly as good as money or magic beans, I’m sure!

There were complimentary drinks too. I wish I could have indulged in a glass of wine to celebrate, but I was driving and had a bottle of water and bought the book instead.

I took photos of the event (on my kindle – see previous post) but have as yet, not uploaded them so I am borrowing these from Lania Knight.

 

© Lania Knight 2016

Meeting Daniel after all this time was brilliant. Generally in my pursuit of the writing world I have met poets and then discovered their work. This way round is unusual for me -it was so comfortable. By reading Daniel’s work and conversing online, we already knew each other on some level.

Hoping to see him and Emily in Cheltenham in a few months, as you can appreciate a book launch is like any major event for the main feature – everyone wants a piece of them and time and conversation are brief.

A strong second collection – a recommended buy from me, don’t just take my word for it – see the Ofi Press review and read David Clarke’s take on the evening too (see related links).

 

RELATED LINKS

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/inkspill-guest-poet-interview-with-daniel-sluman/

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http://www.ofipress.com/slumandaniel.htm

http://athingforpoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/the-terrible.html

A Week of Writing

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Over the past week I have been busy writing new poetry, making submissions, working through my action plan chronologically and editing my manuscript. I have managed just one full day of writing (my 1st this month) on the 18th and I filled it with working on poetry and research. writing

I have made three submissions this week, written over eight new poems. This is great because by the end of last year I felt creatively drained and found writing new poetry an impossible task. Now I am back in the game, I can feel the desire to write return and have already thrown away two pens CC I can do itwhen they ran out of ink! Fortunately I have started the house de-clutter, so I know I have hundreds of pens AND I know where they are. Despite the rush of this creative spell, I have just spent over 40 minutes this morning trying to create a title for a romantic poem I wrote for last night’s Stanza meeting. It now has a title, although I think it may be a temporary title.

I have taken this week off from performing to concentrate time and focus on my writing, I intend to repeat this monthly as 2016 is the year I have to focus on writing the words. Real work has been busy too, spending the majority of my week with three year olds has been an eye opening, now I am thoroughly exhausted and looking forward to a restful weekend.

Work – Pyjamas – Poetry, has generally been this week’s theme.

ds sluman

Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

I had an exciting invite last week to Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch for his new collection ‘the terrible’, which we have been promoting here on the blog since 2015. ds nine archesthe terrible daniel sluman Naturally the book launch clashes with another event that I had already committed to performing at, but with my new SatNav (thank you Mr G), I hope to manage both events before collapsing in a heap the next day.

I also discovered last week that Liz Berry is performing locally as part of the celebration for National Libraries Day. I grabbed some tickets and scribbled this February date straight into my writing diary. It will be a pleasure to watch her again in the new venue, doubly delightful as it is local and involves zero car miles.

liz berry

Back to my desk now to write a few more romantic poems and then onto the next project.

My overall aim this week is to finish and resubmit my manuscript. I have finally (after two months of searching) decided on a new title for the collection and I cannot wait for my editor to read the strengthened version of poems. I look forward to posting updates about this soon.

pfl me choosing poems

Keep writing x

 

 

 

 

INKSPILL Guest Poet – Interview with Daniel Sluman

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Guest Writer Interview Daniel Sluman

Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

Sonia Hendy-Isaac
© 2014

GUEST

Earlier this year A Writers Fountain spent time with Daniel Sluman, promoting his (very soon to be published) second collection ‘the terrible’.

We are delighted that as part of INKSPILL we can bring you another exclusive interview with the man himself and it didn’t escape our notice that the book cover design has been released NOW as well. Another sneak preview for you!

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  1. How did you know you wanted to complete a 2nd collection?

I kind of just kept going after my debut was released, it’s just what you’re meant to do isn’t it, keep writing. I had a project in mind and I worked for a while on that until I stopped and asked myself this very question – what am I going to achieve by writing another book beyond (hopefully) extending a career? It was really important for me to work this out, as it made me realise that there were things in my debut I wanted to articulate further, and events were unfolding in my life that I was excited about exploring in a new book.

  1. Poetry is a kind of process, how did you feel at the beginning of compiling your 2nd collection? How was it different to the 1st?

I found it quite tough to work out where I wanted to go at the start of this process, I was drawn towards a number of different ideas for this book, some more conceptual and overarching than others, and it took me a while to feel comfortable in the direction I decided on. I’m guilty of overthinking things, especially when it comes to writing, and when I started writing this book I was really worried about repeating myself, about getting lazy and complacent.

When I was writing ‘Absence…’ I was an undergraduate, and the tutor feedback and workshops really helped with developing those poems, and of course that support was something I no longer had, which made me feel a bit lost for the first six months of writing this book. In that period I made dozens of pages of notes, but I was terrified of committing anything to the page properly, I was sure it wouldn’t be good enough, nothing looked good enough. It took me a long time to get back to writing more loosely, not being afraid to write crap which could then be edited, closer to the way I felt when I was writing my debut. When that first book comes out to good feedback and reviews, I felt a certain (mainly internal) pressure attached to the next, and that definitely affected me. I locked up for a long time, I was so terrified of disappointing people, of disappointing myself, but once I found a rhythm things started to get written again, and I started to enjoy myself in the same way I was enjoying myself before the first book came out.

  1. What were some of the difficulties in this process?

I went through a lot of changes in my life during the period of this book getting written. I came out of a long-term relationship and into a new one, moved house (and area), and my health was really going downhill in terms of my back pain, which meant quitting full-time work and getting put on benefits. Drama and high emotion is something which always feeds into poems, so some of this made it into the work, but the transition of all these things meant it was hard to get into a rhythm, this upheaval meant it was a while before I felt like I could properly concentrate on writing again.

  1. What anxieties have you encountered and how have you overcome them?

I suffer from the same anxieties I’m sure most writers do – fear of playing it safe and repeating what’s worked well for me in the past, the worry whether it will sell enough to justify a wonderful publisher putting in so many hours helping to form and release the book. I’ve always suffered from imposter syndrome, and so part of me is expecting to fail spectacularly and be found out as not a poor writer.

Over the years I’ve learnt to partially overcome these anxieties by being a little less tough on myself, enjoying and celebrating successes more than I used to, and acknowledging that I couldn’t have put more hours into this, it’s the best I can do, and that has to be enough for me.

  1. Did you know when you wrote material after your 1st collection that you wanted to include it in a 2nd collection?

After a while, yes. I was aware that the work straight after a book can often represent a transition of styles, concerns, or ways of working, and so I wasn’t being too hard on myself to make every poem get to a level I wasn’t capable of getting it to. We talk a lot about ‘finding a voice’ in poetry, but I think that each new project represents an articulation of a new voice, primed to whatever direction the writer wants to go in, and somewhere last year things clicked together, and I realised I had the bare bones of a book laid out.

6) Often poets have years between collections, how long have you been working on your 2nd collection?

This book took three years, which I imagine is a pretty average amount of time for most poets. If I was a better writer it would have taken less but I’m extremely wasteful, I’ve probably written something like 90 poems for this project, cut down to the 46 that made it in this book. If it wasn’t for Jane Commane of Nine Arches I would still be writing this book now; she is brilliant at judging which poems have potential and go somewhere new, and which ones go over the same ground as others. If I didn’t have that objective eye I would have expended a lot of energy on lost causes.

7) Musicians refer to a 2nd album syndrome, do you believe it is the same for writers?

What kind of obstacles have you faced? How have you overcome them?

I think a similar theory applies to books as it does to albums; debuts usually map out an area using a mixture of techniques that point towards some kind of overarching concern, and second albums/books usually work to either further define the concerns in the first release, or explore new ones. The worst thing that can happen with second albums/books is that they appear like pale imitations of the debut they follow, they circle too similar a ground and this is a worry I’ve tried to be hyper-aware of. I think that having this awareness definitely helps in noticing when you’re repeating yourself with a new poem, as does having a clear idea where you want to go, and how you can get there. I’ve read a lot of new collections and books on theory during the last three years, and that’s a big part of developing as a poet, and it’s helped me move on from where I was in my debut.

8) How do you think creatives deal with this 2nd collection syndrome, do you have any advice for poets who have published their first collections? Next steps…

A lot has to do with the expectations we put on ourselves, as we’re often just writing for pleasure at the start, but once you get published the dynamic does change. I spent a lot of time worrying about this collection in contrast to my debut and I wish I had just relaxed and continued the journey that we are all on from the moment we first write. Belief in what you’re doing, that it’s different from what you’ve written before, that’s important, but so is being grounded in enjoying yourself and remembering why you’re writing in the first place – that you can put words in an order that affect a stranger a continent away and make them feel something, that you’re giving voice to the things you think matter. In some ways it was a case of getting back to basics for me, not being in this state of constant anxiety about what the book may look like and how people will react to it. With all this is mind, maybe 2nd collection syndrome is something that occurs because we simply overthink what we’re doing too much, and the way to overcome it is to get back to writing for the sake of pleasure, and enjoying the feeling that you are growing as a writer.

9) You have just finished your first full draft m/s for your 2nd collection. How does it feel?

It’s a relief. Three years feels like a long time, a lot of anxiety, and a hell of a lot of editing day after day, so it’s nice to be able to look at the MS with some sense of satisfaction. When my debut came out I was pretty worried about the reviews that would be written, now I think I’m a bit more relaxed – if the book is enjoyed by readers then that will be great. Now I’m just focused on doing as much promoting and performing of the book as I can with my current health.

10) How did you come to choose the title?

It comes from the title poem in this book, which is probably the most honest poem I’ve written. As our editing of the book progressed Jane and I had a deeper understanding of what the manuscript is about, and that everything in our lives, even the most enjoyable or aspirational moments we experience have a dark underside to them, a fear of it being taken away, a futility to it, that’s what the book is about I think, and the title-poem hopefully sums that up.


Huge thanks to Daniel for this interview, your honesty and insightful responses. Good luck with the final stages of the process. Looking forward to holding the pages of your new collection very soon!

honeyman Interview by Nina Lewis

Buy Daniel’s poetry from the AWF shop CC bookshop-window Garry Knight

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-shop/

EXCLUSIVE Interview with Daniel Sluman

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AWF is lucky to be promoting Daniel Sluman and his new collection of Poetry ‘the terrible’ due out later in 2015.

Interview with Daniel Sluman – By Nina Lewis

Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

Sonia Hendy-Isaac
© 2014

1) You studied a BA in English Literature & Creative Writing in 2008, had you written poetry before then?

Like a lot of people, I’d tried writing poetry in my teens. I think it was probably a way to try and come to terms with my disability, and the general confusion that comes with puberty. The writing was absolutely awful, lots of she’s so pretty, why doesn’t she love me? type poems. I can’t help but wince when I glance at them now.

2) Can you remember the first poem you were really proud of?

I don’t think that feeling has really happened yet, I’m not sure it will. The perfect poem in my head is always going to fail on the page, I see my job as minimizing the damage. I think that ‘Absence’, the first poem from my debut, was really important to me in opening up a dialogue between myself and my disability, so that definitely stands out in that way.

3) What motivated you to complete an MA in Creative & Critical Writing?

I enrolled on the BA in English Literature & Creative Writing on a kind of a whim. I was staring down the barrel of temp work and I felt like I was at an important crossroads in life. I enjoyed the BA so much, the MA seemed like a no-brainer, and the theory and workshops I engaged within my MA have been vital to me as a writer and as a researcher. I’m incredibly happy that I made the decision to do my MA, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to take this step up to PhD level.

4) What would be your best tip for combating procrastination?

Repetition and routine. I write pretty much every day, and it’s something I’ve just got used to through forcing myself until it feels normal. Facebook, Youtube and Twitter always poke their head around the door on occasion, and rather than lambasting yourself for engaging with it, it’s important to cut yourself some slack on occasion. Balance is really important, so doing an hour of editing should definitely be seen as worthy of fifteen minutes of idle surfing afterwards, and maybe that reward structure that works well for me, might work well for others too.

5) What does your writing space look like?

Until now, it’s always been a laptop slung on the corner of a sofa, or a dinner tray. Now I have an actual desk space for the first time, which I’ll be using soon. It will have sheets of notes and my manifesto on the in front of it, and the whole living room will have poems stuck to the wall. I like to think that this helps me see the collection as a whole; I can walk around the house, noting how the poems look against each other, and I can make notes directly to them with a pen, to be taken down, updated on my computer, and re-printed for the wall again. Other than that, just a laptop, my fingers, and a cup of tea, which is obviously crucial in lubricating the creative process.

6) Could you tell us a bit about your poetry life before your first collection was published?

Striving is probably the best word to describe it. I wrote, edited, read, and listened as much as I could. I would draft at 3 am outside my halls of residence, with a cup of tea and a stack of drafts, I tried to make every reading I could, and I volunteered for helping with workshops. I started getting a few poems in journals, expanded my network of poetry friends on Facebook and locally, and I just tried to remain focused on getting a book deal. I achieved that in the last year of my BA and I was over the moon (still am!).

© 2014 Nine Arches

© 2014 Nine Arches

 

7) How does the process of writing a second collection differ from writing your first?

It doesn’t much really. I work on developed ideas on my computer, print them off, scribble obscenities on them, and try again. An awful lot of poems get discarded, or bits recycled from them, and it can take dozens of drafts to write what still amounts to an unusable poem, and years to get something right. That’s always been my process. It’s messy, it’s time-intensive, it’s emotionally exhausting, but it’s the only way I know to write poetry.

8) Where do you get ideas from?

The places in my head I don’t want to enter. Misheard lines from TV. Programmes on Radio 4. The internet and weird forums I find myself in at 3am in the morning. My childhood, and specifically for this collection – my anxieties, nightmares, guilt and shame complexes, and every behaviour these have manifested themselves in

9) How do you write?

First ideas go into my phone, then they get moved to my laptop as a document, then they get their own folder with various drafts of the poem included. I used to write in a notebook but my bad handwriting and shaky hands mean that it’s a lot harder to do nowadays.

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10) Who do you like to read?

Melissa Lee-Houghton and Bobby Parker are the two British poets who I come back to again and again. Other than that, lots of poets from across the Atlantic, like C.D. Wright, Brenda Shaughnessy, Rosmarie Waldrop, Dorianne Laux, Robert Lowell, and Adrienne Rich.

11) Was there a specific person who spurred your interest in poetry or encouraged you with the form?

I had an English teacher at Secondary School called Mr Adams, who was probably the best teacher I’ve ever been taught by. I remember one lesson where he read ‘Eve of St. Agnes’ by Keats, and I was transfixed. It was the first time I was aware that poetry could have a physical effect on me. That felt like a revelation.

My lecturers at University of Gloucestershire, Angela France and Nigel McLoughlin were incredibly nurturing in the period where I started to take writing very seriously. The advice and critique they both gave was invaluable to me, and I owe them a great deal.

12) Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you started writing poems?

I think it continually does for all of us. We change as people and that means we change as poets and our notion of what we do is always in flux. Personally, when I HAVE to write something down, that’s poetry, it’s an unrelenting feeling that I need to communicate something that I don’t think I’ve seen communicated in a certain way before. So poetry for me is vital, it’s incredibly personal but at the same time it’s universal and porous (as language is itself).

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13) What does ‘being creative’ mean to you?

It’s a reason for living and a part of everyone. It’s play, it’s the opposite of destruction, and it’s making something for its own sake, which is all the more vital in our current capitalist, mass-manufactured, superficial society.

14) Do you have any creative patterns/ rituals?

I edit for most of the day, and when an idea seems ripe enough in the notes app on my phone, I tentatively put it on a Word doc and hope something sticks. I try to read as much as I can at some point during the day, but my concentration levels are severely restricted by my medication.

15) What advice would you give to aspiring writers? (You knew that one was coming) 

Don’t compromise. We compromise with our feelings, our dreams, and what we really want to say to people every day, but the page asks nothing of you, it doesn’t judge, so don’t be afraid to put anything in it.

16) Do you still owe Carol Ann Duffy a drink?

Hahahaha. I’m sure she won’t remember buying me one, it was five or six years ago. I was attending a festival where she was reading and I briefly stood beside her in the queue when she bought me a glass of red wine. I’d love to buy her one back though, yes.

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Daniel’s debut full-length collection, Absence has a weight of its own, was published to critical acclaim in 2012. His second collection the terrible will be published Autumn/Winter 2015, also with Nine Arches Press. He tweets @danielsluman2012 brighton 382

Look out for more posts about Daniel Sluman and his new collection ‘the terrible’ – COMING SOON!