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#PoeTips are back! This time bigger and better, with more advice from your favourite poets. This blog post is one of a series in which we interview poets in order to uncover their golden nuggets of wisdom. In this post, we interviewed award winning northern writer Degna Stone.



Q: What is your advice for a poet starting out?

A: Read as much poetry as you can, see as many poets reading/performing as you can. If money is tight, join a poetry library and/or check out the free events at your nearest poetry festival (Newcastle Poetry Festival always has a few free events in its programme).


Sign up to newsletters from organisations like New Writing North, Spread the Word and the National Centre for Writing. Find a group of people that you can write with, this might be a group of friends, it might be a writers’ group.


Check out the Poetry School, along with New Writing North, they’ve been instrumental in my development as a poet (my first course with them was subsidised so it made investing in myself a little more affordable).


You don’t need permission to write.


Q: How is form important to you? What is your process when you write using forms?

A: Sometimes the restrictions of using a specific form (or responding to a prompt) can unlock your creativity and lead you to unexpected places. My process tends to rely on free-writing around a theme or an image until rhythms begin to appear and the lines start to take shape. If it looks like those lines correlate to a particular form then I’ll start actively trying to write into that form.



Q: Could you suggest a writing prompt which you have found useful?

A: Think about the subject you want to write about. Keep it in mind and write in seven-minute bursts. Don’t cross anything out, don’t stop, just write. At the end of seven minutes move on to the next thought and start again.



Q: What was the worst criticism you’ve received? What’s your advice on dealing with rejection?

A: Someone once called an early version of a sestina that I was writing ‘prosaic’. They were right. A dozen drafts later I finally had something that more closely resembled a poem.


Don’t view it as rejection. More often than not it will be a combination of factors that mean that you miss out on something rather than the quality of your work. If your work isn’t selected that just means you can send it somewhere else. You’ll find a home for your poetry soon enough.



Q: What is the best advice you’ve received?

A: Keep going.





We're delighted to announce that submissions to the Women's Poetry Competition and Pamphlet Competition are now open!

This is the second year we have partnered with Mslexia to bring you two exciting competitions promoting women's poetry. The top prize for the Women's Poetry Competition will be £2,000, mentorship with PBS Selector Sandeep Parmar, and a residency kindly offered by Cove Park. The winner of the Women's Pamphlet Competition will receive £250 at publication of their pamphlet by Seren.

Entries are open from the 1st of June until the 16th of September, 5pm GMT. You can submit online by clicking the Submittable button below, or click here for more information about the prizes, including the terms and conditions, and alternative ways to submit.


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