Good things come in threes…

I have been terribly amiss about updating this blog but if it makes you feel better, the same is true for all my blogs. Also applicable to such things as ‘catching up with emails’ or ‘maintaining social relations in general’. So there is that. For the last two weeks I’ve been on holiday in Finland, and the several weeks before that I was basically brain dead from work. However, I’ve taken receiving a third ‘good news item’ regarding poems as a sign to ‘post already goddammit’.

So I’m posting. Goddammit.

Good news item 1. I’ve got a poem (no turning back now) accepted to the Cyclamens and Swords. The August issue where it will be is due out soon and I shall pimp it properly then, together with the usual mini-review of poems that I enjoy.

Good news item 2. A fellow poet has asked me to join him to do a reading at the Margate’s Pie Factory Gallery at the end of August. I don’t know any of the details yet but I am very flattered and excited by this. A reading! In a gallery! *flails a bit* Information to follow once I have it!

Good news item 3. My poem Such Mercy got longlisted for the Canterbury Poet of the Year competition. My reaction upon receiving the email was a resounding HOLY CRAP! This means that it is one of the 36 poems that will definitely be in the published anthology. Out of the longlist, the judges will then select a shortlist of 14. I have no expectations regarding that whatsoever, the longlisting alone has made me wide-eyed with giddy disbelief 😀

This all has definitely motivated me to keep writing and sending stuff out to magazines and competitions. I’m due another submission blitz soon I think…

Review of Maria Apichella’s Paga

Well I have just completed my first official poetry review. Does this make me a real poet now? It’s a bit like the first time I was asked to peer-review an article for an academic journal, or a book proposal for a publisher… That same ‘omg people think my opinions on this stuff are valid enough to be taken seriously!’ feeling is definitely there…

It’s an auspicious beginning to my poetry reviewing. An interesting (and free! this is the poetry equivalent of inspection copies clearly which… may prove to be a problem) pamphlet arrived with a lovely card from the author (let me tell you, there was no note of thanks from the academics whose work I reviewed!). Maria Apichella’s Paga was worth, and indeed needed, more than one read, weaving its themes of loss, belief and origin with bright slashes of humour. An uncompromising and often uncomfortable collection that stayed deeply human, deeply humane, throughout.

Read my full review, complete with several extracts from the collection, at London Grip.

Wait a minute Mister Postman…

I’ve been on one of my not-as-regular-as-they-should-be submissions binges over the last couple of days. During this I have wildly flung poems at four competitions and five online magazines. There’s probably more that I could do (I have… let’s call it a considerable backlog eh?) but I’m now tired of staring at old poems and think it may be time to write some new ones instead…

However, whilst looking at magazines at which to throw my soul scribblings like some kind of literary skipping stone (what counts is not that it sinks but the ripples it makes before that) I was once more struck by the fact how some of the ‘established’ literary/poetry magazines still don’t accept online/email submissions. I genuinely do not comprehend why that is. Please someone tell me that there is an actual, valid reason for this that isn’t simply elitist clinging to the postal system as some kind of last bastion of clear cut class divisions and the good old days when poetry was written in ink on expensive paper by Oxbridge educated young men with a hard-on for the illusory English countryside. Because, honestly? That’s exactly how it comes across.

Then again, maybe I’m just bitter and cynical. I did spend most of today reading about social exclusion.

Anyway. Yay submissions?

Have some Marvelettes. If you think I’m including this as an additional gender-based dig at the literary elites then you are partly right. Also, it’s a hell of a catchy tune 😀

New Publication @ Londongrip

The summer issue of Londongrip New Poetry is out now. I’m very happy to have two poems included: Shaped Like Care and Resolute, and would like to thank the editor Michael Bartholomew-Biggs for some judicious editorial suggestions 🙂 Both poems are several years old so it’s great to see them out in the world.

  • Shaped Like Care tends to cause a degree discomfort in the audience whenever I read it which frankly is the way I think it should be, given the theme. It is also one of those poems where the deliberate lack of any gender clues really bothers some people and I have on occasion been questioned about the gender of the ‘characters’ in it. Sometimes, answering with ‘it doesn’t matter’ or ‘whatever you want’ only seems to aggravate the person asking even more.
  • Resolute is a rather personal poem and echoes the kind of melancholy introspection I almost always end up embroiled in when I go back to Finland.

The issue is full of some excellent poetry. Here are a some (quite a few actually!) personal favourites:

  • Boyhood of Senesino by Stephen Bone – A layered poem about a double-edged fame of an Italian castrato with a great line-break that made me raise my eyebrows at first before resolving in a more family-friend manner *g* You’ll know what I mean.
  • Rapture by Anthony Costello – There is something dark and claustrophobic about this that nicely captures the feeling of words crowding you
  • Me and Kim Jong Un by Pam Job – Immensely relatable (that’s a word, dammit) to every writer. Made me smile.
  • The Elders by Ajise Vincent – This becomes particularly painful in the context of the poet’s country.
  • The Disappeared by Norbert Hirschhorn – Worth it for the first line alone, but it doesn’t let up after that. It hurts because it’s true.
  • Salt by Genevieve Scanlan – This. This. I’ve read it like three times by now and just want to shake it at people and go THIS!
  • A Filigree of Fog Rising by Ian C Smith – Starts kind of silly but ends up somewhere achy and vast.
  • In Praise of Beaches by Maggie Butt – What the title says! This made me smile and determined to get my ass out of the house to walk on the beach next week!

Go read and enjoy!

Book Pimp: The Scroll

I’m pimping this for a friend and a very skilled story-teller, Jay Mountney. She has published another book that is very much worth a read for anyone interested in fantasy and/or mystery genre.

scroll 2015 for blogs

I will let the author explain the plot in her own words:

The story is the first in a series called The Skilled Investigators. The ‘heroine’ is a female elf who wants to be an investigator (detective in our terms) and has to solve a murder mystery before she can be accepted as a trainee. Her assistants/sidekicks are a teenage dragon who imprinted on her at hatching, and her brother. The brother is gay and provides the romance subplot for the series but there is no explicit sex.

Jay talks about the book and the planned series here – do go and check it out! Author is offering free review copies too!

I read the first draft of the book some years ago and enjoyed immensely, I can’t wait to read the final version! Just need to sort out a eReader app for my tablet…

You can purchase the books either via Smashwords or Amazon.

Happy reading!

New Publication @ The Stare’s Nest

I came across The Stare’s Nest by following one link to another link to a third, probably in the footsteps of some poet I liked and who had published there, and was most taken with their mission to publish “poems for a more hopeful world … as the antidote to the cynicism and suspicion”. And honestly, their openly left-leaning political stance appealed too, especially since the fucking UKIP won’t stop fucking sending me fucking election material (articulate poet, that’s me). This is both annoying and highly amusing, because they clearly haven’t cottoned onto the fact that as a filthy foreigner I’m not even eligible to vote in the General Elections. *eye-roll*

Anyway, I digress. It happens a lot.

The point of this post is to say that I am delighted to have On Walking Home At Night published as today’s poem in The Stare’s Nest. I wrote the poem almost four year’s ago and it’s one of the most literal poems I’ve done. I lived in Crumpsall, Manchester at the time which, while it had its charms and perks, wasn’t what one might call quaint. Or affluent. The poem traces my route home from the local tram stop and everything in it is as it happened on that particular night, from the local wolves to the neon flowers, and the indomitable spring crashing through it all like a freight train full of hope.

New Publication @

Issue 9 of is out now! And check out who’s quoted on the front page… *g*

I’m delighted to have two poems published in this issue: ‘Evolution can suck it’ and ‘Lions’ both of which seem to slot nicely amongst the mythically themed cornucopia of verse. After a quick read-through I’d like to highlight the following as instant favourites:

  • No place nowhere by John Michael Mouskos which gets creepier and creepier as it goes on, genuine shivers down my spine!
  • Ripped by Dave Migman which appeals with its subtle viciousness. ‘I have a tiny knife’ indeed…
  • The sycamore seeds by Josie Tutty which is visceral and painful

Go read and find your own favourites!

On Gender and Poetry

The topic has been brewing for a while and is a result of two things that more or less happened at the same time.

One is that a good friend of mine Sara Norja posted about her award eligible poems, linking to an interesting post by Amal El-Mohtar who discussed the cultural and social stigma attached to the outrageous concept of female poets/authors publicising and marketing their work. From there I followed links to Seanan McGuire’s post on her experiences of reactions from (male) audience and peers for such activities.

Around the same time I attended a local poetry reading that I’ve been going to for a while and always enjoy immensely. Without going into details of the discussion/events, I received a ‘joking’ comment from someone in the course of general banter that really put my back up and made me think about the topic of the post. “Ah,” this person said, grinning, “but you’re only a woman.”

For me, that was the end of funny banter. And it was clearly obvious from my face as well as the rest of the table seemed to take a collective breath. But that’s alright, it was only a joke. Right? The other person in question, clearly noticing my less than amused reaction, followed up with: “Oh I’m sorry, I thought since you’re a poet you must have a sense of humour.” Because, you know, haha women are a butt of jokes and if you don’t laugh then you’re a stuck up cow.

I replied with “I have a sense of humour but no tolerance for bigots”. A conversation then followed where I tried to explain how the fun goes out of ‘jokes’ like that when one hears them over and over again, and once they are accepted the connotations become a part of social and cultural norms and affect behaviour and attitudes. The person in question expressed surprise that women would still encounter such attitudes and language ‘for real’. “Ask any woman,” I said, and the other women in the table started nodding. It’s not as overt of course, but it’s undeniably there. Just open a TV or a magazine or… Write some poetry?

VIDA has been reviewing female participation in the literary arts in the US for a while now and the latest count shows positive progress (see also further analysis in Huffington Post on the topic) which is of course encouraging. A few years ago Fiona Moore discussed the notable gender gap in The Guardian poetry reviews, followed by a look at the big five UK poetry publishers in terms of their gender representativeness. I won’t repeat the findings here but I’d encourage you to check comments on both posts for some interesting insights from publishers, agents, authors etc.

But this is not just an issue of quantity but also of content as the excellent post in Litro Magazine by Angela France highlights. The article discusses the way women’s poetry, particularly when using first pronouns or on themes such as love, family, children (you know ‘women’s issues’), tends to be dismissed as ‘confessional’, ‘autobiographical’, ‘domestic’ or simply ‘female’ (can we all say ‘othering’ now? I believe so.). Because, as I’m sure you know, male poets never write about personal experiences or loved ones… Oh wait.

As the article points out, the universal ‘I’ is male and when a woman writes about any issue from personal experience it becomes very easily a ‘woman’s issue’ and thus implicitly not of universal interest or regard. ‘Ask any woman,’ I said above. Indeed, ‘ask any woman poet’. Angela France did:

“…experiences ranged from tutors refusing to critique work that was too ‘female’ or ‘domestic’ to an editor of a well-known journal stating they didn’t publish ‘confessional’ work. While it is difficult to convey the negativity of the experiences without breaching confidentiality, some of the language used by the critics was repeated in several women’s stories: ‘domestic’ and ‘of no interest’ was the most common, ‘coy’ appeared a few times, while any assertiveness or hint of anger in the poems was described as ‘shrill’. One woman’s work was described as ‘fluffy’ in a review…”

Personally, I remember two experiences, both during poetry workshops a few years back. One was an explicit comment on the use of first person perspective along the lines of ‘we used to write proper poetry about important things’. On another occasion I read a poem that was quite ambiguous in its theme and received some complimentary comments. However, as the discussion developed, the group chair asked what the poem was about to me and when I explained that I had written it as a commentary on gender disparity, he did a swift 180. I can’t remember the exact comments but they were hostile and boiled down to ‘poems about issues are a bit dire’. When I challenged it, pointing out that we’d have several poems about a wide variety of issues from racism to environment to the disappearance of Lancashire countryside (and boy was this a popular issue among the white 50-something males in the group) over the weeks, he got quite defensive saying it wasn’t the same.

Quite. Because we weren’t the same. Because I was different. And while I stepped into the shoes of middle-aged Lancashire men mourning the loss of a way of life on a regular basis, he could not do the same leap for me, not even for one poem.

This is why I find nothing funny about ‘only a woman’ comments and ‘jokes’ and why I also will continue to express my lack of amusement out loud (another thing women are not supposed to do). Because there is nothing only about being a woman.

And there definitely is nothing only about women’s writing.

Poetry Publications in 2014

*Viimeistä viedään…

I’m working on putting together some kind of updatable tally of publications to link somehow (still figuring WP) but thought it would be appropriate to finish the year with a short tally of accepted publications.

I had two poems published in The Missing Slate, which is an international literary and art magazine that has introduced me to some interesting writers and artists – seriously, check it out!

Asphalt Story #84 was published as a weekend poem in March which was a wonderful treat. It also represented Finland in the Poetry World Cup where it didn’t go any farther than the first round but the whole experience was fun. I was also honoured to be included in the three poems the magazine included in its Pushcart Prize Nominations following a vote.

Later in the year, The Missing Slate also published In Conversation, which is a co-authored poetry dialogue of sorts, written with the delightful and indecently talented Delilah Des Anges.

In addition, I had poems published in the Halloween Special of Glitterwolf which is a UK-based literary and arts magazine celebrating the work of LGBT contributors from around the world. They publish fiction, poetry, art and photography. The three poems included by yours truly were Corpus Delicti, Keep Me In a Hole, and Overture. The first two of these can be read in the free taster while the full magazine can be bought on Amazon: UK buy link and US buy link There are four variant covers and lots of spooky and queer stories and poems on offer.

I also had another poem accepted to the Plunge Magazine but sadly it seems to have ran into problems as nothing happened after the acceptance letters were sent out and neither the site nor the Tumblr have been updated since. This is a shame as it seemed like a great magazine and I can only speculate something drastic and sudden happened that has prevented the editor/owner from continuing with it.

That’s it for 2014. I have two more poems coming out in January so more on those once they are out! This leaves me to wish everyone Happy and Creative New Year 2015!

*A Finnish phrase, roughly translating to ‘the last one is being taken away’ which is appropriate for the last day of the year.

First Post

Well. A first public post on a public platform. *pauses for fanfare*

Yes, indeed. As promised, I have finally gotten off my generous backside and created a public facing blog. Thanks for nagging all those who did, you know who you are.

Introductions are clearly in order.

Hello, I’m Kat. I write a lot of things including academic research, fanfiction, poetry and original fiction, both by myself and together with other people. However, this blog (and this author name) is only about and attached to the last two. If you know about my academic work and/or my fanfic, I ask you to please not link those identities with this one. Not because I’m ashamed of either (on the contrary!), but because as countless other authors I prefer to maintain different identities for different genres/audiences.

As you may have gathered from above, I am not new to blogging. However, my personal/fandom blog and a poetry blog are locked and serve a vastly different purpose. The point of this blog is to have somewhere I can direct everyone to, somewhere I can use to publically discuss, and yes promote my own and other people’s writing. As a Finn living in Britain such self-marketing feels doubly vainglorious but alas, one must battle one’s cultural hang-ups to get ahead. And, as my grandmother used to say: Kukas kissan hännän nostais jos ei kissa itse? Meaning: Who would lift the cat’s tail, if not the cat itself?

So, there you have it. Welcome to my public writer’s blog. Expect posts about writerly triumphs and tribulations. And do drop me a line if you have questions!