Amniotic City – Lucy Furlong’s Poetry Map Reviewed in The Guardian

Amniotic City

MFA poet, Lucy Furlong is featured by The Guardian today for her poetry map, Amniotic City. Dan Holloway describes her work as “a beautiful exploration of the way a city can consciously and unconsciously suppress an important part of its nature, and how a little imaginative trowel-work can reveal what is hidden – and transform the things you see around you every day.” You can read the entire glowing review on The Guardian website.

Lucy will also be reading this Saturday evening, 03 August 2013, at the Structo Issue 10 launch at 6pm in the Society Club in Soho, London. This lovely bookshop/gallery/cafe/bar is a hidden London gem and will be packed with fantastic writers and readers this weekend. The event is free, so drop in, hear some good writing and pick up a copy of this great magazine featuring the best poetry, fiction, essays and interviews from around the world. For more information on the Structo launch check out the event site.

The Society Club

Are you an MFA graduate, current student, lecturer or writer-in-residence with publishing or performance news? If so, let us know!


Lucy Furlong is completing the MFA in creative writing at Kingston and currently writing a collection of poetry.  She had a poem included in English Pen’s award-winning Poems for Pussy Riot anthology, Catechism, and a poem recently in the Solidarity Park Poetry project in support of the Turkish uprising. Her poetry map, Amniotic City can be found at


How often do you submit your work and where to? It does of course depend on what you are writing. Short stories and poems can be submitted across the publishing stratosphere, and that can mean anything from twinkling blogs and zines, to esteemed literary magazines and journals, not forgetting competitions and anthologies.

Novels are a different matter and recently a friend prepared the first three chapters of her book to send, plus blurb, synopsis and covering letter to an agent. This seemed to me to involve far more of an investment than firing off poems into the ether and seeing if anything stuck…otherwise known as The Spaghetti Method of submitting…not actually a sure fire way of getting your work published but probably a good place to start if you  haven’t done it before.

In fact, although this may be a way to get over the initial fear of submitting your writing, if you are serious about getting published you will need to put in some time researching where your work might fit best. The web is a good place to start and many sites will have a submissions policy which advises you to read the publication, whether it is a blog, journal or annual anthology, first to get an idea of whether your writing would be suitable for it.

I would recommend doing this too. It will save you a lot of time and you get to know lots of different publications, which is critical if you are going to carry on with this mad writing lark you’ve got yourself into. Also, you might read some fantastic and inspiring poetry, short stories or experimental prose…If you are a poet the Saison Poetry Library stocks a comprehensive range of poetry magazines, zines and journals which you can browse to your ‘art’s content. It also supplies handy copies of the latest submission deadlines for competitions too.

What is the best way to deal with the inevitable rejection and frustration which comes from this process?  My advice would be to be business-like. Develop a system and be pragmatic. If you’ve gone through the creative-workshopping process for any amount of time you will be used to having your work critiqued, albeit constructively and with colleagues you know. This will help to prepare you for what may come next. It could be nothing, as in no response- and possibly will be many times over. Then again it could be rejection letters and emails from editors who don’t know you and don’t care for the short story you have sent them.

All writers face this. And if you are going to be successful you have to face it too. Some people find it very scary and there is no doubt it can be disappointing to get a rejection which picks apart a piece of writing which you thought was your best poem yet.

Muriel Spark writes in her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae about her system for keeping track of where she submitted her work:

“I used to keep a notebook which I called my ‘Despatch Book’…On the right hand side of the page I wrote the name of the journal to which I submitted my work as I wrote it. On the left I wrote against it, when the fate of the submitted piece was known, either the words ‘accepted’ or ‘returned’ – more often than not the latter.”

She goes on to list a number of her poems and where she had sent them, which gives the reader an idea of how often she submitted and how often the work was rejected. Out of the six listed submissions sent in one week, five were returned but the sixth won The Observer short story competition. Her tenacity and no-nonsense attitude, as well as her talent, paid off.

So, know your spaghetti and find out where it is most likely to stick. And then keep chucking it at those literary walls.

2013 Kingston University Pedagogy Conference

Pedagogy Flyer

KWS 1st International Conference, July 10th 2013

Pedagogy and Practice: Writing and Higher Education

Key Note: Philip Gross discusses ‘the writer: accident, improvisation, and limitation’

An Interview with Hanif Kureshi by Vesna Goldsworthy

For its first international conference, The Kingston University Writing School will present a one day conference of theoretical and practiced-based papers, workshops, panels, and performances that will add to our understanding of the relationships between Pedagogy and Practice in Higher Education.

This one-day conference hosts a series of panels on the possible relationships between pedagogy and the practice of writing in higher education. The conference will consider all forms of writing, from creative writing and poetry workshops to life writing, autobiography and memoir, journalism, digital publishing, blogging and writing for social media.

The conference will provide a valuable opportunity to reflect on the debates about writing and pedagogy and will showcase experimental approaches to writing and teaching methods from a diverse body of researchers and practitioners.

Our Keynote speaker is Philip Gross, Course director, Masters/PhD in Creative Writing at University of Glamorgan. Philip is a writer of many parts from prize-winning poetry, young adult novels, science fiction, opera libretti, poem-documentaries. He is also a creative writing teacher at all levels.

After a morning of panels and workshops, Professor Vesna Goldsworthy will interview Hanif Kureshi and there will be an open mike reading with special guests in the evening including S J Fowler, Kimberley Campanello, Allison Gibb, Jane Yeh and others.

Two of our MFAs will be participating in the New Practitioners Ponder Pedagogy panel, Lucy Furlong & Sinead Keegan with Creative Writing & Pedagogy MAs, Amber Koski and Joshua Poncil. MFA alumna and Emerging Writer-in-Residence, Alison Gibb, will be participating in the Pedagogic Innovations in Creative Writing panel with MFA lecturer, James Miller. All conference attendees also have the opportunity to take a workshop with either Alison or James.

Book your tickets here. Or email Amber for information on the free tickets still available.

For more information please contact Amber Koski –

KWS Logo

Annual MFA Anthology, Writings…, Goes to Print, Launch Scheduled

Cover by Hannes Pasqualini,

Cover by Hannes Pasqualini,


We are excited to announce that the annual Kingston University MFA anthology, Writings…, goes to print this week. The official launch will be next week and we hope you’ll join us for a reading, drinks and a celebration of the achievements of all out MFAs. This event is free and open to the public so please join our Facebook event and invite your friends. You’ll even get a free copy of the publication!



Writings… Launch

Thursday, 30 May 2013


Waggon & Horses Pub

Surbiton, KT6 4TW

MFAs to be published in RiPPLE

This Wednesday, 1 May will see the launch of RiPPLE, Kingston University’s annual literary anthology, published by Kingston University Press. We are proud to announce that there are several MFAs featured in this year’s publication. Some of them will also be reading at the launch so you can hear what we’re really made of. We invite you all to join us at 7pm on Wednesday in Woody’s Bar & Kitchen for a celebratory evening filled with good writing.

RiPPLE Launch


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Woody’s Bar & Kitchen

5 Ram Passage, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1HH


MFAs published in RiPPLE 2013:

Kristin Durinick

Lucy Furlong

Neil Horabin

Sinéad Keegan

Ryan Licata

Beatrice Parvin


MFAs reading at the event:

Beatrice Parvin – Love Letters and Asparagus

Sinéad Keegan – Desert Children


Ripple Invite

Catch the Pigeon

Lucy Furlong is currently completing her MFA in creative writing.  She recently had a poem included in English Pen’s Poems for Pussy Riot anthology, Catechism, and has a poem in the latest issue of Structo magazine. Sometimes she performs her work, if she can get a babysitter.


Aesthetic – what does it mean exactly? And more particularly what does it mean if you are a writer? The online Oxford Dictionaries lists it, amongst other things, as: “a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.

The poet and musician Patti Smith is quoted as saying hers were fully developed at an early age:

“All I ever wanted to be was an artist. I’ve always been driven aesthetically. It used to get me in trouble. I used to wear the same thing every day to school as a kid. I had a uniform consciousness. Even the teacup that I drank from…I didn’t like plastic, I liked porcelain. By 12 (my aesthetics) were totally defined.”

In the midst of writing my first full collection of poetry for my MFA dissertation, I have been confronted with the issue of what exactly my poetry aesthetic is, and is it affected by my personal aesthetics? So far the answers are: I’m not sure but I’ve got a few clues; Yes, of course… Can the two be separated- must they be? No one would separate Patti Smith the person from her poetry, her writing, music or art. But what makes her work so distinctive?

Whilst I was loitering in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern yesterday, waiting to see the Lichtenstein retrospective, I talked to a friend about my investigation into aesthetics and what that meant in relation to the aesthetic at work in my own poetry. She wondered if it meant I was ‘pigeonholing’ my work, categorising myself. I considered this for a moment and thought that she probably had a point but that it was also about time I set down a few working boundaries for this collection.

I have experimented with all kinds of ways of writing poems, from concrete to formal, from prose to fragmented free verse. It has been hugely enjoyable and a great opportunity to try different ways of working. There are some clear themes and subject matter emerging and I am now in a position to have some idea of what I want to achieve, of what I am aiming for.

In the bookshop I picked up the Bloomsbury Anthology of Aesthetics. The introduction mentions the origins of the use of the word in the eighteenth century, from Alexander Baumgarten’s intention for a science of “sensuous cognition.”

That sounded better than the problematic received notions of taste, value and other connotations which the word aesthetic is also associated with. It took me back in the direction of Patti Smith and a quote from Robert Mapplethorpe in her book Just Kids. While discovering his own aesthetic and making decisions about his work that Smith didn’t like she asked him what he was thinking. His response was: “I don’t think… I feel.”

Where does this get me in defining and refining the aesthetic at play in my own work? With 25 draft poems towards my collection, in various states of completion, I can see a shape forming through them. In some places it is clearly visible, in others shifting, in a few it is barely perceptible. I’m not sure how I am going to realise this shape yet and make it tangible but I am feeling my way through it with a little more knowledge than before.

It’s not a pigeonhole – it’s a carrier pigeon.

Poems for Pussy Riot

Balaclava in support of Pussy Riot

Lucy Furlong is an MFA student writing poetry. She blogs about everything from running for trees to poetry in motion at Today, she blogs about taking her writing out into the world, how poetry is political and her poetic fight for a cause from England to Russia.

I managed not to realise I was a writer until the day my last radio show had aired on Resonance FM, a thirteen part series I had written and presented called ‘The Shoe Show’. As I walked down Tin Pan Alley that day I knew finally that what I really wanted to do with my life was something I had been doing all along. Life has grown more mysterious and remarkable ever since.


Next Wednesday, 21st November, I will be reading poetry at the Free Word Centre at an event organised by English Pen and S J Fowler in support of Pussy Riot. Two out of the three members of the art punk collective, who were convicted in August on charges of hooliganism, have now been sent to remote penal colonies, far from Moscow and their young children.

My involvement began in September when I saw a tweet from English Pen about their Poems for Pussy Riot project  and wondered if I could contribute something to it. I submitted a poem, Tricky Disco, and, as requested, a photograph of myself wearing a makeshift balaclava, fashioned from a pair of opaque tights and some gold glitter glue. The poem was published on the English Pen web site and later included in Catechism, the fantastic anthology of 110 poems, which Sophie Mayer, Mark Burnhope and Sarah Crewe compiled and edited. This was published on October 1, to coincide with the original appeal hearing.

I read my poem at the protest outside the Russian Embassy in London on that day, in the pouring rain, alongside several poets including Gareth Evans, Amy Evans, Katy Price, Sarah Hesketh, Tim Dooley and SJ Fowler. Some of the poems were also read out in Russian.

George Szirtes begins his introduction to Catechism by saying:

An anthology of poems dedicated to a political purpose is not so much an anthology of poems as a political act in poetic form.”

Being involved in this project has been a chance to put my poetic currency where my mouth is. I am more of a clicktivist than agitator these days so I was excited to be able to do something to show my support for Pussy Riot.  Catechism is an amazing collection of work, available to download or as a print on demand copy from the English Pen web site. All proceeds go to the Pussy Riot Legal Fund and English Pen’s Writers at Risk programme.

Poems for Pussy Riot takes place at The Free Word Centre in London on Wednesday 21st November at 7pm. £3 entry with all proceeds going to the Pussy Riot Legal Fund and English Pen’s Writers at Risk programme.

Check out videos of the poets at the embassy protest here:

Tricky Disco

Lucy Furlong

Amy Evans

Tim Dooley

S J Fowler

Sarah Hesketh

Gareth Evans

Katy Price



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