Daddy – by Sharon Larkin

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d-c-g-jones-and-s-c-a-jonesHere I am, aged 5, with my Dad kneeling alongside me on a country walk. The photo would have been taken by mother; the camera was his. Later he would buy me my first camera and we would go for long walks with a succession of border collies, him teaching me the names of wild flowers and trees, us trying to learn the names of birds together. Small wonder that, half a century later,  when not writing, I’m outside with my camera.

Sharon Lakin

Introduction

What is this all about?

Here, poets are going to be celebrating fathers – their own, their grandfathers, step-fathers, foster fathers.  Or someone else’s exemplary Dad. Or perhaps you are a Good Dad yourself – or are trying to be – and have already put your positive experiences of fatherhood into a poem, or now feel inspired to do so.

Father, Dad, Daddy, Pater? Tad? Vati? Papa?   Whatever you call him, let’s sing his praises.

To be able to celebrate him, he must be a Good Dad.  And I recognise that not all fathers are good fathers.  But most do their best -and we want praise them for it, in poetry.

Why do this, and why now?

I have known Sylvia Plath’s Daddy for several decades, and shiver with the emotion of it each time I read it. It’s is an extraordinary poem. The last time I read it – at a Cheltenham Poetry Society event – I felt the need to counterbalance it by writing a paean to a positive model of fatherhood.  It was – obviously! – nowhere near the quality of Sylvia’s legendary poem.  How could it be?  I simply felt I needed to get a positive poem, however defective, ‘out there’.

I’ve since remembered several poems I’d written about my own father – who was one of the good ones.  And then I had the idea of starting this site, to go live on 1 January 2017, and inviting poets to submit their own ‘good dad’ poems for inclusion.  I’ll aim to review the site, with a fanfare, following Fathers’ Day, 2017.

Then who knows?  If we have an extraordinary body of poems celebrating extraordinary fathers, perhaps we’ll think about an anthology – either an e-book, or a ‘real’ one!  It depends how things go. No promises.

How to submit your poems

Please submit between one and three poems (less than 40 lines each) in the body of an email, to good.dadhood@gmail.com  .  They don’t have to be new poems.  As long as you own the copyright, they can still appear on this site – acknowledging where they first appeared. Please include a short (100 word max) bio with your submission. I’ll aim to publish (or re-publish) at least two poems per week from 1 January to 18 June … more if quality poems flood in, as I hope they will!

I’ll be Tweeting and Facebooking links to this website as each poem appears.  If more than one poem from your particular submission is accepted for the site, it might be held over to a later date than the first one accepted.  It depends on which poems go well together, or which provide an interesting contrast.  I’ll let you know by email which of your poems have been accepted, with a projected date for publication.

An important note

It’s a great sadness when fathering isn’t that positive.  I can appreciate something of what it means not to have had a good dad … my mother didn’t, and I am less confident that I could start a website celebrating motherhood.  My heart goes out to all children, of whatever age, who are hurting.

There are many outlets for poetry expressing the pain of negative experiences of fatherhood. This isn’t the ideal place to submit poems that can’t represent positive aspects of fatherhood, so such poems are unlikely to be published here. I hope you will find a better outlet than this one, and wish you every success with your writing

Finally …

This is a new venture for me.  Please be tolerant and patient as I learn how to be an editor of an e-zine!  If I do anything that upsets you, it will be  down to inexperience, never malice.

So please start sorting through your ‘good dad’ poems … or writing a new one!  I look forward to reading about some splendid fathers … some heroes … some, more like my own – a kind and gentle man, modest of his achievements but unforgettable, and deserving of a big, loud fanfare!

Welcome!

On 1 January 2017 this Good Dadhood poetry blog goes live. This is where your good poems about good Dads will appear!

Why?

Well last year, Cheltenham Poetry Society, with which I am closely associated, launched a series of events called Poets Dead or Alive. We asked people to come, armed with a couple of poems by the ‘famous poet of the night’, and one or two of their own poems that related in some way to those of the famous, either by subject or style, or by presenting a contrast.  We ran four such evenings over the year, focusing on Edward Thomas, Philip Larkin, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.  (This year, we’re calling it Poets Alive … and including the poetry of W H Auden, T S Eliot, Gillian Clarke, D H Lawrence, Billy Collins and W B Yeats.  Let’s see what project(s) this seeds for 2018!)

For the Sylvia Plath night in 2016, I chose to take along her famous poem, Daddy, and as a contrast – a counterweight – a poem I wrote in gratitude for having had a good Dad.  This is the first poem on the blog, not because it’s brilliant (it’s not – and in no way stands comparison with Sylvia’s justifiably lauded poem), but it was what got me thinking how much Dads need a better press – and better poetry. Hence this project.

So this gives us an opportunity to assemble a body of poems in praise of Good Dadhood.  I hope you will contribute.  Your poem(s) might be in gratitude to your own good father … or someone else’s … or it/they might touch on your experience of trying … to be a good dad … and succeeding!

How to submit

Please submit your poems to  good.dadhood@gmail.com
There is no real limit to the number of poems you can submit but make them good ones!  Let’s say, to keep things manageable, that you can submit between one and three poems (less than 40 lines each).  Let’s go for quantity over quantity. Positive is finest. Humour is fine. Overly sentimental and mawkish are possibly going to be less fine … and might not get past the gatekeeper (me!)  Negative almost definitely won’t get through the gate.
Already-published poems are fine as long as you still own the copyright. On submitting, please mention where they first appeared, so we can acknowledge that on the blog.
If you are wondering whether to submit a poem to a magazine or competition, you might think twice about entering it as a candidate poem for the Good Dadhood blog.  Poems appearing here must be considered ‘published’.  However, if you do need subsequently to withdraw a poem from the blog, for whatever reason, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the site as quickly as possible.
Please include a short bio (less than 100 words) which might include a few words about the father in your poem((s).  If you would like to, please feel free to include a photograph of yourself … and, with the necessary permissions … the father in your poem.  Please don’t submit a photograph if you don’t own it or don’t have the owner’s permission for it to be posted on the internet.  Please do assure yourself that you have the permission of every living person in the photograph – and mentioned in the poem – to be represented on the blog. The Good Dadhood project isn’t going to be responsible for any repercussions stemming from not following any of these guidelines!

What next?

I’ll let you know when your poem is (or poems are) going to be posted on the site. Feel free to publicize their appearance on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Good Dadhood poems will continue to be posted on the blog until submission closes on 17 June 2017 – when there will be a big fanfare of celebration  … on the eve of Father’s Day.       
I’ll then do a stock-take of what we have and decide whether to leave it there, or whether an anthology is achievable, and if so, in what form.  No promises about an anthology at this stage; it depends on the quality and quantity of poems we end up with by June.
Finally, not all of us have good experiences of being parented. If your experience of fathers and fatherhood wasn’t positive, I genuinely feel for you. Sadly, it is an imperfect world we inhabit. Not all my experiences of being parented were positive and helpful ones.
But there are good fathers in the world. Good fathers don’t get enough recognition and we want to do them proud with some good poetry … don’t we?
I look forward to reading your poems!
Your friend in poetry …
Sharon Larkin