Dr William Stephenson (Reader in English Literature) is about to celebrate the launch of his second short poetry collection, after winning two poetry competitions in 2012. He was a winner of the Iota Shots Awards 2012, which led to the pamphlet of 16 poems, Rain Dancers in the Data Cloud (out now on Templar Poetry, and available in the campus bookshop) and the Ravenglass Poetry Prize 2012 (judged by Don Paterson), which led to the short collection of 24 poems Source Code (available in March / April from Ravenglass Poetry Press via Amazon). William notes: ‘I guess collections are like the proverbial London buses; you wait for years and then two come along at once…’
William began writing in the mid-1980s, and as an undergraduate at Cambridge he joined 'Virtue Without Terror' a workshop group that included some future bestselling writers; Joseph O'Neill (who would go on to write Netherland), Edmund de Waal (author of the The Hare with The Amber Eyes) and Joel Lane (who has published novels, and three collections of poetry with Arc). While still a student, he published poetry in some magazines, including Iron and one of the earliest issues of The Rialto.
After years of focusing on academic publications, in 2007 Will decided to throw himself back into poetry, and has shared some of the details of his writing and publishing process:
I set up a strict training regime of reading the poetry of X then writing in their style, having already decided that a novel - at this stage - was too big a gamble with my time.
I managed to start publishing in magazines from 2009, when I got my first acceptance from Envoi, after a string of the usual rejections; since then I've been fortunate enough to get into Anon, Iota, The North, The Rialto and other magazines In about 2011 I thought I was ready to enter competitions, and decided to aim for those where books, rather than money, were the prizes (on the theory that competitions with big cash prizes would attract established poets who already had several books out, but these same established figures perhaps wouldn't necessarily enter competitions to publish more books).
I was lucky enough to win the first two such competitions I entered.
William mainly teaches English Literature, but his recent success has led him to get more involved in the Creative Writing programme, and he has taken several sessions with final year poetry students to discuss his writing and publication experiences.
Fans of William’s poetry have more to look forward to: ‘I'm currently working on a full length collection, but this is going to take a long time.’