Older poems

When I send poems out to magazines, I usually concentrate on recent work – current year and maybe the previous year. However, last night I decided to look back over my earlier poems, to see if any were publishable, with or without revision.

It was very odd, going back 15 years or so, and working forward. Most of the unpublished poems deserve that status, but others still work for me, and I hope they’ll work for others. Too much revision would maybe lose some of the impetus of their creation (if that’s not too pompous), so I’ll do an ‘edit lite’ on them.

My first collection – Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands – was published in 1996, so poems written before that are on my computer in a folder labelled ‘pre-1996’. After that I’ve got annual folders. From the earliest group then, I’ve found three unpublished poems which I’m going to send out again, and in successive years there are maybe one or two poems each year, apart from 1999, where there are six poems under this review. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare.

Oh, and by the way, a week or so after blogging about ‘rejections’, I’ve now had five poems accepted by a variety of publications. As the saying goes, it’s a funny old world.


I’m off to the Callander Poetry Weekend, organised by Sally Evans of Poetry Scotland. I’m reading on Friday afternoon, discussing plants and gardens in poetry with Larry Butler on Saturday, and MC-ing a session on Sunday.


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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8 Responses to Older poems

  1. BarbaraS says:

    So it's good news on both fronts. I'd love the luxury of having time to look over my older stuff: that might be a project for the coming months. Right now I'm so mired in the poety dissertation that I can't think straight & I've so many other plates spinning I'm surprised they don't come crashing down around me!

  2. Tommaso Gervasutti says:

    Dear Colin, talking about old poems you ( I think it was you ) published years ago one of the first poems I have ever written in English in the nineties: “Shore”. I rememeber that while submitting it around the first times, by regular postal mail ( I didn’t even know the possibility of emails ) and receiving two or three rejections immediately I asked an English friend of mine, who was visiting Venice, to read it: it was clear she didn’t understand and/or liked the poem, she said she found the ending lines obscure.Well,although it was very dear to me I stopped submitting it. Ten years later I submitted it only to Poetry Scotland and it was accepted at once.It’s a strange world, one must have faith in the “unexpected”.Best wishes, Davide

  3. Colin Will says:

    Barbara: Good luck with the dissertation. Spinning plates doesn’t get any easier!Davide: Yes, I remember your poem, and I was delighted to publish it. Best wishes.Colin

  4. apprentice says:

    Congrats on the acceptances. The folder idea for each year is a good one.I hope you all have a great weekend. I would love to have come for all or part of it, but I’m away the following week and have loads of loose ends here that I need to sort out before I go.

  5. Rob says:

    It’s ups and downs all the way in poetry, isn’t it? Always good to get poems accepted though, especially after a few rejections.I can hardly bear even to look at my old poems – maybe in 15 years time I might feel differently about one or two of them.

  6. Crafty Green Poet says:

    Mostly I ignore my older poems if they’ve not been published but there are a few that i think are worth something and every so often I’ll send them out again. Maybe I’m just hopelessly attached to them and actually they’re really no good…Glad you’ve had a good number of acceptances recently!

  7. Crafty Green Poet says:

    lol. two of my said ‘old poems’ have just been accepted. Proves it is worth keeping on trying! I knew they were good!

  8. Colin Will says:

    That’s great news J. I find that looking at poems after a few years helps in judging quality, just as you say. And you pick up correctable faults too.

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