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15 Jun 2011

Greg Cox - Editor of The Cannon's Mouth

Greg Cox is the current editor of Cannon Poets' quarterly journal 'The Cannon's Mouth'. Since 1983, Cannon Poets have met monthly at the MAC (Midlands Arts Centre) Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham. However, due to the extended closure of Midland Arts Centre, since April 2008 they now meet at Moseley Community Development Trust, The Post Office Building, 149-153, Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8JP.

Cannon Poets are a diverse group of people who have a common interest in and love of poetry. The group encourages poetry writing through workshops run by members or visitors; break-out groups where poems are subjected to supportive peer groups scrutiny; ten minute slots where members read a selection of their poems to the whole group and through publication in their quarterly journal, 'The Cannon's Mouth'.

Had you had much involvement with poetry before you joined the Cannon Poets?

I started writing stuff that didn't quite go to the edge of the page in my early adolescence and seem to have needed to do so more or less ever since. I didn't share my poems with others very much until I joined Cannon Poets.

How long have you been a member?

About ten years I think.

What is a typical Cannon Poets meeting like?

We usually break into small groups and start by reading a published poem we have each chosen. We then give out copies and read out one of our own poems. The others then spend about 15 minutes commenting on the poem and offering constructive suggestions. Most of us find this to be the most useful part of the meeting. To participate you have to have written a poem, even if it is only a first draft. So it is an incentive to write as well as an opportunity to get peer group feedback. After tea or coffee, in the plenary group, one member makes a ten minute presentation, usually reading a selection of their own poems. Finally, we read out one our own poems to the whole group. Two or three times a year this format is replaced with a themed workshop usually facilitated by a guest poet.

Can local budding poets come and see what you do as a guest or do they have to join first?

Yes local budding poets can come for one session [free] to see if they like us.

Is your group open to any age or just adults?

As far as I know it is open to any age, but we all seem to be adults.

What successes have the Cannon Poets achieved over the years?

One of our biggest achievements is that we have been running continuously with a membership of around 30 since 1983. We have published ten anthologies of our poems [Broadside I - X] and quarterly editions of The Cannon's Mouth and its predecessors since inception.

Many of our members have gone on to have their work published, become Poet Laureates, gone on to further poetry related study, etc. Others do very well for themselves in winning poetry competition prizes. We are proud that our membership has reflected the multiculturalism of the Birmingham/West Midlands conurbation and that women's voices have made themselves heard in significant and formative ways.

Can you tell us who your guest judge is for the 2010 Cannon Poets' 'Sonnet or Not' competition?

Marg Roberts.

Are any Cannon Poets involved with the Moseley Festival? (If yes, please tell us more!)

Yes, this year [2010] we are running an open workshop inviting people to come and try their hand at writing poetry. Last year [2009] Cannon Poets ran an 'open mic' poetry reading and musical evening in the Cross pub.

Tell us more about the 'The Cannon's Mouth' …

Cannon Poets have always had some form of newsletter that included members' poems, reviews, articles and news. The frequency and quality of these newsletters varied with different editors. In 2001 a decision was made to open the publication up to non-members and to move away from the idea of a members' newsletter to a quarterly poetry magazine published by Cannon Poets. The format has been steadily upgraded since then. We try to keep a balance between submissions by non-members from around the world and those from our own members. As each edition reflects submissions received that quarter, quality can vary.

The Cannon's Mouth is part of the Cannon Poets' membership or associate membership package and it is also available by subscription. Single copies can be purchased. Contributors get a copy of the edition in which they are published.

How will the Cannon Poets be marking National Poetry Day this year?

At the October meeting we usually ask members to try to reflect the theme of National Poetry Day. As the 2010 theme is home, I hope they don't all stay at home this year!

How has being a member of a poetry group enhanced your writing and enjoyment of poetry?

There are many ways being a member of a poetry group has enhanced my writing and enjoyment of poetry. It has provided me with an opportunity to share my writing with others, listen to others read their poems, learn about different aspects of poetry through workshops and meet other poets. It has been my gateway to the sometimes bewildering world of poetry.

As the editor of 'The Cannon's Mouth', how do you decide what content makes it through to publication?

As the editor I am always grateful for the fact that I always receive more material than I need to fill the 56 pages. Submissions by our own members and associate members are very likely to be published. Non-members are more likely to be published if their poems are interesting, clever, funny, of high standard and/or poems we think readers will enjoy. We particularly like to publish material that we like by people who have never been published before.

I like to think that we exercise exceptional literary taste in what we choose to include.

Since becoming the editor have you made any changes to 'The Cannon's Mouth'?

We changed the format from A4 to A5, introduced photographs and artwork, reviews and articles as well as poems. We now have a full colour cover and the overall presentation has improved to the point where I think it looks quite professional. It is a respectable place to publish your poems with a remarkably wide national and international readership.

If anyone would like to get hold of a copy of 'The Cannon's Mouth' where can it be purchased from?

Write to: Cannon Poets, 22 Margaret Grove, Harborne, Birmingham B17 9JH.

Or email info@cannonpoets.co.uk

Also check our website www.cannonpoets.co.uk

Do you have any exciting plans for the Cannon Poets and / or 'The Cannon's Mouth' in the pipeline that you can share with us?

  • We hope to upgrade and improve our website soon.
  • We have to decide whether to move back to the Midlands Art Centre now that it has re-opened. We are meeting there in September 2010 to see if we prefer it to the Moseley Post Office Building.
  • Please enter our 'Sonnet or Not 2010' poetry competition

If you would like to contact the Cannon Poets for further information on their poetry group, events and competitions please visit their website at www.cannonpoets.co.uk or email info@cannonpoets.co.uk. Alternatively, drop them a line at Cannon Poets, 22 Margaret Grove,
Harborne, Birmingham B17 9JH.

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