One friend recently asked me to name the best five books I've ever read; I told him mine, he told me his, and we've been working our way slowly through each other's lists. That's a plan of a kind and it's been a revelation.
"Avoid the use of abstract nouns", he said, "that's what's holding your poetry back". It was a revelation. Now its the first piece of advice I give students when I teach creative writing.
Most writers need to support themselves financially, one reason why the RLF has proved a lifeline to many. Sue Fletcher pays tribute to the organisation which has enabled her to ‘write without worrying’, and reflects on the wide variety of other jobs she has taken over the years in order to support her writing career.
There are poets I love but will hesitate to read if I am in the middle of writing a poem because I know their style is infectious; Ted Hughes for instance, or Seamus Heaney. There's something Heaney-esque in every male poet of a certain age.
From William Carlos Williams’ prescription pads to George Szirtes’ Twitter-length stanzas, the medium has shaped the message of poetry. John Greening surveys the curious and influential choices made by modern poets.