I realise that we must look pretty slack and lo-fi as a shiny new publisher of poetry goes, a month or so in and so far not a lot has happened, apart from the odd ‘evolution’ where we have realised that maybe we took on too much up front or hadn’t thought things through too well.
I would love to say that like the legs of a duck shaped iceberg lettuce, all the real action is going on below the water line, but even that isn’t really true as other than a flurry of emails here and there I can’t honestly say that we have exactly stretched ourselves.
However, stupendous organisation (ahem) should never be taken for a lesser spotted slothe, and the truth of the matter is that we have been slowly building up to the publication of our first issue of ‘Arfur’ and that I’m really pleased to say that the wee chap is now taking on a more appreciable shape.
Of course, any fool can publish a magazine these days – I am the living embodiment of such things – you point, you click and voila! But getting people to want it, to spend their hard earned is a different matter and so we have been conscious all along that we want Arfur to be something slightly different. Something readers of poetry, and not just poets hoping for publication, might want.
From the start it was always going to have a good chunk, a properly readable selection of poetry, and I am pleased to say that now that we have started working through the submissions (and keep them coming – you still have time) we already know that it is going to be a ‘good ‘un’.
We had always planned to just not publish the magazine if the poetry wasn’t right – anything else we can live with – but in these days of ‘red lines’ that was ours. So getting past that was quite the milestone for us.
From there though we wanted to go a bit further with the magazine and in truth it is likely to end-up split into three sections:
1. The Poems:
40 seems the perfect number to me for a poetry magazine, and apart from a couple more if we really can’t choose, that is the minimum Arfur will contain. We genuinely meant it when we said that we are encouraging poetry from ‘every dusty corner of the broadest of churches’ and I’m pleased to say that, that is what we have been getting.
2. The People:
This section is where we wanted to talk to people involved in poetry at different levels and angles, and so I’m really pleased to say that we have a number of poets, magazine editors, book publishers, independent shopkeepers, cover designers and so on, who we have or will be talking to and generally featuring. They won’t all appear in every issue, clearly, but I like the idea that even when you have enjoyed the poetry, there is some real ‘meat’ for you to go back to time and again.
I’m also – have always been – fascinated by the lyrics songwriters write and how their approach compares or crosses over with the way that poets work, and so one of the features we will have in each issue (assuming we manage to arrange them) is an interview with a songwriter. Not particularly about poetry, but about their own art – and we, you, can then draw your own conclusions.
3. The Reviews:
I’ve said before that I have always felt that given the nature of the poetry scene and how it is ignored by the wider book industry and media, all poetry magazines have an obligation to review contemporary poetry collections. Selling poetry is hard already and without sounding sappy we really are in it together. How many collections we’ll review, I don’t know, but we’ll try our best and see where it leads us.
4. Deus Ex Machina:
Yes, I know I said three sections, but at least I know you are still awake after all this. Section four is a little different as I’ve always felt that every newspaper or magazine should have something light at the end, and so to finish each issue wanted to offer a little light relief.
I’m delighted to say that serial sadist, A.P. Middleton is to create us a prize-winning crossword that he guarantees nobody will be able to finish and we have a couple of other things up our sleeves, but more anon on those.
We will see..