Women and Adversity: Robin Houghton, Part I
Award-winning Poet, Blogger, Author
Determination is the keyword to describe Robin Houghton. She chose a career in marketing but says she tried for more than 30 years to get her poetry published. In 2009 her goal was to get a poem published in a reputable magazine. She succeeded in 2010 when The Rialto, a British poetry magazine, published one of her poems.
In 2014 she and Peter Kenny co-founded Telltale Press, a poets’ publishing collective. Now she has about 100 poems published, has won several poetry prizes and is included in The Best New British and Irish Poets 2017. Her 2018 A Guide to Getting published in UK Poetry Magazines is sold out, but she is updating it for publication in 2020. A dedicated blogger, she has written three books on blogging and two ebooks on how to use Twitter.
She accepted my invitation to participate in my blog. Here is Part I. Notice the British spelling.
JAM: What was the biggest obstacle you faced when you decided to become a writer?
RH: I think it was how to get out of marketing. I didn’t realise it, but I was already a writer: of marketing copy, promotional features, press releases, website and email copy and so forth. To describe myself as a writer seemed (to me) to imply author/novelist/published poet, none of which I felt could apply to me while I was still knee-deep in writing optimised copy for websites or cliche-ridden email newsletters.
JAM: what obstacles did you face before your poetry was accepted?
RH: The main obstacle was of my own creation: I hadn’t read enough good, contemporary poetry to understand what it was, what made it good, what editors and publishers wanted to see. And I was still stuck in copywriting mode. So I wrote cliche-ridden, sentimental poetry with a lot of rhyme. It was heartfelt, but not original. I got better at it by reading more poetry, reading about poetry, writing more and daring to show work to other, better poets. I think it’s really important to share work-in-progress and to take criticism, not shy away from it. I’ve benefited from the generosity of many wonderful poets who are prepared to read and critique my work, and I try to do the same in return.
May 23 | Women and Adversity: Robin Houghton, Part II