Thursday, 6 August 2020

2 manifestos

"The vision of culture and other poems" by Mark Howard Davis (Minerva Press, 1998) begins with a 10-page preface. Here are some extracts -

  • In an age where individualism is haloed with spotlights, where relativism runs amok, there are many clever and sophisticated people but few with real, intense, aesthetic depth of wisdom
  • Everything is based on good contacts in the right places at the right time, rather than on serious evaluative criticism
  • when I read any of the current poetry on offer (whether written by supposed first league or lesser poets) I am aware of a lack of structure, lack of form, content and style
  • Once you slide into cultural relativism and it is deemed fine for everyone to pursue 'their own thing', all the critical apparatus and accumulated wisdom of tested craft and innovation become as nothing
  • Relativism has enslaved our culture and nowhere more so do we experience this bitter truth than in the meagre, half-cooked microwave poetry of postmodernism
  • today's postmodern conformism is due to the absense of any sort of intelligible poetics
  • The world of the true poet is, in the last result, a unique world of personal joy and suffering. The sheer intensity of such inwardness seals this world off from any mere facile cleverness
  • Poetry must regain its basis of meaningful patterning

"All hail the new puritans" by Nicholas Blincoe and Matt Thome (eds) (Fourth Estate, 2000) begins with a single page manifesto, explained in a 10-page introduction. Here are some extracts -

  • In the name of clarity, we recognise the importance of temporal linearity and eschew flashbacks, dual temporal narratives and foreshadowing ... Flashbacks are a cheap trick ... I have no problem with dual narratives generally, especially in longer fiction. But for this project we wanted to force the included writers into putting everything into a single narrative strand.
  • All our texts are dated and set in the present day. All products, places, artists and objects named are real ... Current historical fiction seems to be written with the sole purpose of denying life
  • We are moralists, so all texts feature a recognisable ethical reality

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Publishing poems

I'm going to be in "The High Window", which I'm pleased about.

Sad news is that Envoi's closing down after over 60 years of issues. I've had over a dozen poems in it. Fortunately magazines are still coming into being. See for example

For more ideas about where to send pieces it's worth looking at

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Publishing short stories

I've had a story accepted for the next Postbox magazine. They received 82 submissions, from which they chose 15. I'm surprised so few authors sent stories. The press which produces the magazine published a book which has just appeared on the Edge Hill Prize longlist of the year's best short story books (along with books by Picador, Faber, etc). All 12 longlisted authors are female.

Magazines come and go. Here are some magazines I've sent stories to in the last year or so, and got replies. There's a UK bias. A few are prose only but most print poetry too, so space is at a premium. Some are paper only. They all accept longer stories - I've a different list for Flash. Have a look at the sites if you can before sending off, to see the types of authors and stories they deal with. Buy the printed magazines - they deserve your support. I think they're all respectable (even if they're all not major). Many accept simultaneous submissions. Many have submission windows.

Sunday, 12 July 2020


We spent a few days at St. Ives, visiting Land's End, Penzance, The Eden Project, St Michael's Mount and Tintagel. The street names in St. Ives were dual language - a tourism ploy maybe, though I know more people are learning Cornish nowadays. Cornwall flags were flying.

The visual arts seemed popular in the region, with galleries, art schools and the occasional sketcher. Alas, the Tate and the Barbara Hepworth museums were closed.

Driving was a hassle. Sometimes there were helpful signs. One road advertised itself as a 25% slope, though other unsigned roads seemed steeper.

I read an anthology of short stories (Updike, Achebe, etc), and a book about why people read fiction (theory of mind, etc).

Monday, 6 July 2020

Diversity statistics

In a recent report The State of Poetry and Poetry Criticism in the UK and Ireland 2011-2018 there's an analysis of how well women and BAME writers (BAME=Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) have got on in magazines. 26 magazines were studied. Over the period, the percentage of poems written by women and Non-binary people rose from 39% to 48%. In contrast the percentage written by BAME poets has stayed at about 8% (the census results suggest that about 13% of the UK are BAME).

I have some sympathy with the editors. Perhaps the low-BAME magazines get few submissions from BAMEs despite their best efforts. Perhaps they publish a high percentage of some other oppressed minority group - the old for example, or Rhymesters. Sometimes only a change of [sub]editorship will convince submitters that a magazine is genuinely open.

Poets will send poems to outlets that they think gives them the best chance. Sonneteers will send sonnets to magazines that publish sonnets, not realising that other magazines might love to publish more sonnets if only they were sent more. Ditto perhaps for poems written by BAME poets - poems of particular types/origins will tend to cluster.

Articles and reviews were studied too. The magazines have more control over this - most pieces are commissioned. White males dominate. It's tempting to stick to contributors who've not disappointed in the past - newer magazines have an easier time getting a mix of contributors. On the face of it, some magazines aren't doing well - the report states that "The London Review of Books has publised (sic) 70 articles by 33 different poetry critics. All 33 were white. Those 70 articles reviewed 86 different books. All 86 were by white poets. Of those 83% are male."

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

A submission schedule for the rest of 2020

The second half of the year seems to have fewer competition and magazine-window opportunities for me. Here they are -

Wednesday, 10 June 2020


I like Spelk. It's been going since September 2014. It prints 3 Flashes (max 500 words) a week. It allows comments and "likes". I suspect the stories are read by quite a few people.

Amongst the contributors are Angela Readman, Carrie Etter, Gary Duncan, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Meg Pokrass, Michael Loveday, Paul Beckman, Robert Scotellaro, and Sandra Arnold. It has 3 pieces in Wigleaf's list of 50 best flashes this year.

I suggest you dip in and have a look around. There are links to all the stories on the front page. The Nominations page picks out some highlights.