Starting a Poetry Magazine #1: Technicolor or Joining The Monochrome Set

It strikes me that starting a poetry magazine is something that, perhaps, a number of people would like to do, and that in doing it, it is a good chance to talk about what is involved. I’m sure we will make plenty many lots of mistakes along the way, but if nothing else making a prat of yourself in public is entertaining for the casual spectator.

Of course we have already decided a few things. The name,  ‘A Restricted View From Under The Hedge’ actually came really early for some reason, and with it a certain perspective on what a poetry magazine is. Ours will have plenty of poems, but we want it to be a little ‘meta’ too, mainly because I’m one of those annoying people who always ask ‘why?’ when the ‘what’ is really what matters.

Other than that, making it a quarterly was an easy decision as, basically,  I am ultimately lazy in my default state. And printed over pixels came down to the fact that I tend to have a pile of poetry books on my bedside table, and I’m always concerned that I’ll get electrocuted if I drop a Kindle in the bath. (I know I won’t, but you never know.)

One thing that I am pondering today, is about how the magazine will look. On the outside we obviously have an idea about design already, and I think matte lamination is the way to go too. But it is on the inside I am going around in circles, and I’m trying to decide whether it should be colour or monochrome.

Now to cover the obvious, there is a cost implication to consider. Colour costs more as you need posher papers and more inks, or something.

Technically speaking.

But in reality, for a book or magazine the size of a poetry magazine it may mean a £1 on the cover price, and if my old Economics ‘O’ level taught me anything, it was that sitting with all the other boys was no way to get a girlfriend.

The other thing, of course, was that when it comes to things like books and music, and maybe even poetry magazines, demand is inelastic in that if people really want it they will pay the price and if they don’t, it doesn’t matter how cheap it is, they wouldn’t spit on it if it were on fire.

I failed the exam, clearly.

So in many ways, the colour or monochrome decision is strictly aesthetic, and you may think that it would be easy – colour all the way, as that is how ‘normal’ magazines work, isn’t it?

But in truth, I really think poetry works better in monochrome, there are no distractions from the work and I can’t help but feel that colour poetry books remind me of those piles of cheap hardbacks you get in motorway services and garden centres, the visitor shop books with curling gold-foil rosettes shouting ‘Three for a Tenner,’ all very  ‘Mary Berry Cooks Dallas’ and ‘Steam Engines From Hackney Wick.’

And yes, we could use beautiful photographs, or have an ‘art’ section, which admittedly I’ve thought about, but would it really add anything to the words?

I don’t think so, and ultimately that is the interesting part, the part we wanted to immerse ourselves in from the start and isn’t it better to avoid distractions?

So I think that is what we will do, and if that seems a little old fashioned, well I can only apologise, and perhaps we’ll keep digging out pretty photos of hedgehogs for the web site by way of an apology.

And yes I realise that it has nothing to do with anything at all, but to celebrate the unlikely event of my making a decision, here is a song from the Monochrome Set.

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