Mimi Khalvati. Winning, lockdown and life

In 1989, when I was already 45, I entered the Smith/Doorstop pamphlet competition, then in its infancy, and to my amazement was a co-winner with David Morley with whom I had a co-pamphlet published, my first ever publication. Michael Schmidt was the judge and he subsequently wrote to me and asked if he could publish my first full-length collection with Carcanet Press. I don’t think I fully realised then how lucky I was. I certainly do now, when things are so much more difficult – there are so many more competitions, but also so many more people writing poetry and entering them. Getting to the point of having your first collection published takes, I think, an average of ten years, ten years of hard work, of attending courses and workshops, of solid reading and going to readings, of giving and receiving feedback and developing one’s work.

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