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Poetry | Masterclass 3


Masterclasses from the 2005 London Book Fair

This Masterclass was chaired by Daisy Goodwin and the three poets on the panel were Fleur Adcock, Sophie Hannah and Christopher Reid.

The Masterclass went well and everyone wrote a poem to be considered by the group.

The poets had some interesting things to say about how to break into what many aspiring poets see as the closed world of poetry.

Fleur advised the audience to enter competitions although she didn’t actually like them much herself.

Christopher said ‘the publishing world is tiny’ and ‘first of all you have to gatecrash the right parties’. Speaking from his own experience as a former Poetry Editor at Faber, he said that it is easier for publishers to make a decision if they can ‘place’ a person. It’s important to communicate with them, as they’ll be thinking ‘Who is this person?’ He said that editors were ‘not dealing purely on a level of artistic discrimination’ but were influenced by other factors which affect the publishing of any book.

Sophie said that you can ‘improve your chances by being as fully informed as possible.’ ‘Know as much as you can about the scene… the more knowledge you have about the poetry world the better.’

The consensus was that you don’t need an agent to sell your poetry. Sophie’s own agent deals with her fiction but not her poetry, as she felt it might disrupt her relationship with her poetry publisher. But she emphasised that getting published won’t suddenly change the world: ‘You get published and it’s good, but it doesn’t change things.’

Some British magazines which are good places to submit your poetry to are Mslexia, the Literary Review and the Spectator.


Masterclass 1: How to get published

Masterclass 2: Historical Fiction