Friday, 16 April 2021

Magazines I've been in

While tidying up my files I made these lists. Many of these magazines no longer exist. There are still a few magazines I'd like to appear in, but maybe I'll just try to complete the alphabet. What poetry magazine's name begins with D?

Poems - Acumen, Agenda, Allegro, Angle, Antiphon, Ariandne, Assent, Atrium, Bluenib, Cake, Envoi, Fenland Journal, Flea, Folio, Glasgow review, High Window, Horizon Review, HU, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Interpreter’s house, Iota, Jennings, Lake, Lighten Up, London Grip, LossLit, Magma, Mobius, Morning Star, North, Nottingham Poetry, Orbis, Orchards, Other Poetry, Outposts, Oxford Poetry, Poetry Nottingham, Poetry Voice, Quartz, Resurgence, Rialto, Sand River, Seam, SHOp, Smith’s Knoll, Snakeskin, So it goes, Sol, South, Stand, Staple, Under the radar, Urthona, Verse, Virtue Without Terror, Weyfarers

I've not had a poem in a magazine whose initial letter is D K T X Y or Z

Stories - Acumen, Aesthetica, Black Market Re-view, Bottom of the World, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Cake, Clam, Connotation Press, Cortland Review, Dogzplot, Drabble, Dream, Dream Catcher, Ellipsis Zine, Everyday Fiction, Fictive Dream, Firefly, Flash, Flashflood, Forge Literary Magazine, Fragmented Voices, Giant Pygmy, HU, Horizon Review, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Jellyfish Review, Journal of Microliterature, Momentum, Necessary Fiction, Nerve Gardens, New Moon, New Walk, Orbis, Panurge, Paragraph Planet, Postbox, short fiction, Southfields, Spelk, Stand, Staple, Stockholm Review of Literature, Summit, Toasted Cheese, Transmission, Unbroken, Under the Radar, Unthology, Varsity

I've not had a story in a magazine whose initial letter is K L Q R W X Y or Z

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Gender, writing and judging

"The Best American Short Stories (1994)” was edited by Tobias Wolff. He didn't know who the authors were when he was picking stories. He chose about twice as many male authors as female. The year before when Louise Erdrich read blind, she chose twice as many females as males.

Such outcomes shouldn’t surprise us even nowadays. The 2020 longlist for the Edge Hill University Short Story Prize had 12 authors, all female, and 3 judges, all female (the entries were published books - I don’t think the judging was blind).

In "Why Women Read Fiction" Helen Taylor pointed out that "Female readers are [...] the main buyers of fiction, members of book clubs, attendees at literary festivals, and organisers of days out to fictional sites and writers' homes". As more readers become writers, and more females become judges, the gender balance of prizewinners is bound to change. Judges, like other readers, will more easily understand the allusions and concerns of writers who share their life experiences.

Having more than one judge will help reduce partiality, but how many judges are necessary? Gender’s not a binary issue, and besides, there are so many other issues to consider - I suspect judges also tend to select stories by authors their own age, etc. There are times when I barely understand my nieces’ conversation when they talk to each other - what chance would I have judging their prose?

So although one shouldn’t typecast judges (their tastes are often far wider than their books might suggest), I don’t think one should over-estimate their broad-mindedness, especially if they’re authors rather than tutors/academics.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

"Fleeting" gone

"Fleeting" magazine is no longer online. Here's my poem from it

The Gallery Affair
Then I see her, the girl of my crutched dreams -
Mona Lisa smoking a pipe that's not a pipe,
sipping absinthe from a fur-lined cup
that tickles her moustache.

We miss the train that leaves the fireplace,
but anyway it's raining businessmen so we stay in,
smooch to the Broadway Boogie Woogie,
sleeping in this tent with en-suite Mutt urinal.

We've learnt our lessons. Abstraction came too easy
for Brancusi, the universe already constipated with objects.
He fed his 2 white dogs lettuce floating in milk.
Schiele was more realistic - he couldn't afford the paint,

he said, when the judge who burnt his work in public asked
why he chose models with amputated feet. Our millennium
opened late for staff training. By the time we wake to
Turner's blazing sunrise, it's all on video, our taut bodies

reviewed as allusive symbols of when beauty was freer
than porn, though the cafe's a rip-off and the Impressionists'
cheap pigments are fading in the light, irreplaceable as our love,
the frame and signed canvas statements in themselves.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

"Angle" has gone

"Angle" has gone. Here are 2 of my poems from it -

Musée des Beaux Arts

From Belgium's pre-war fields he saw a boy
who fell through centuries, his technique failed,
not finding love while Jews, unnoticed, died.
The weary ploughman's pleats, unruffled, match
his measured furrows not the puffed-up sails,
old masters pleased young Wystan thought to rhyme.

His craft sailed far from Europe's tumbled myths,
conversion in its wake. Invited back
to Oxford, limestoned wrinkles deepened, touched
a crazed belief that prayer, not God, would help
him suffer, slipper-shuffling from the bar
each night to find his cottage in Christ's grounds.

He left Kirchstetten farmhouse one cold day,
his life's sole purchase. We know only that
he found a Gasthaus, somewhere to go. Clocks
kept ticking, heaven harvesting the gold,
a blinding influence that makes us fail
to see young stowaways thrown overboard.

The Poetry Channel
Once more we sail beyond dawn's harbour walls,
pose laughing in the prow's romantic spray;
our site's not shown on any chart, and yet
our winking, wine-breathed pilot knows the way.

Our masks prepared, we dive into the wreck,
set on our course. We talk in signs, defy
our age, rise heavy to our craft. They want
to see us stripping off - we can't be shy.

No mast-tied hero - we're all equal now,
we all have lines to change, the licensed power
to dream. By setting good examples we
achieve our 3 cliff-hangers every hour.

Of course there's no surprise - back home we'll add
addresses to our lists, unload our cache
which later polished up in workshops is
revealed - but gently so - as last year's trash.

Friday, 12 March 2021

"The Flea" gone

The Flea ( has disappeared. Here are 2 of my poems from it

Lost Letters

"Too staid", critics said, "too sad. Poems shouldn't
mean but be". So must the work of men like me
who chose Jarrell's hose or Heaney's hoe become
sparse, hard to parse as it disappears up our collective arse?
Must we haunt palaces, places where thought paces in ermine?
Can't we swing and sing as if prose were a sin?

I know just what to do now there's no Eliot
daring to preach about eating a peach. We should each seek
the best public forum and form for expression,
slowly learn our craft, win words' trust, earn a good ear,
not beg a grant to rant like a rat on a sinking readership.

Their stuff's just prose in a pose. Poe's turning in his grave.
While stolid, solid poets slid into obscurity they've zoomed like
human cannon-balls into the canon, ousting poor anon.
Mon frère, they'll explain their free verse to you for a fee, but
I'll never cast pearls before swine, serving wine to win friends.
Let them eat cake. I'll earn my bread, read their books, always see red.

(each line has a triple of words with lost letters – e.g. staid/said/sad)

Today I've a diction addiction,
marooned in maroon,
alone without interest,
my celibate celebration of
innocence in no sense
pure, the
therapist, the rapist
all ready already
trying together to get her to
swing, sing, sin in-
side me, leaving me sentenced,
solitary, so literary.

Today I'm a pathologist
studying roads not taken,
aching for rumourtologists
to break the news to me,
and for wellwishers
to lower their buckets
as a sign of respect,
dyslexia my only hope of escaping
from the word to the world.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Getting reviewed

Looking back, I was lucky to get so many reviews for my "Moving Parts" poetry pamphlet - see my reviews page. I wasn't so lucky with my short stories reviews but stories always struggle.

Amongst the many articles on getting reviewed are

Reviews have been monetized - according to "Which?" magazine, March 2021, AMZTigers charges £620 for 50 reviews, and AMZDiscover charges $125 for contact details of 1,250 reviewers. As fast as Amazon take steps against such reviews, the reviewers evade the algorithms. Such ads might help sell gadgets and genre novels. I don't think they help with poetry.

Small press magazines that publish reviews usually say how they want to be approached by authors. Often they don't want books in the first instance. Read the magazines to find out! Emma Lee is a prolific, unmonetized reviewer who appears in several magazines. She has a reviews policy which makes for interesting reading.

But do reviews in small press magazines help sell poetry books? It's unclear. I've heard a few publishers say they don't. But authors like them. I did anyway.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Losslit gone

The LossLit site ( has gone bad, so here I reprint my 2017 poem that used to be there -

A short course of treatment

Six walls replace three of scenery.
On the sides, slowly moving faces
sucking at the glass.

They put a colourful ruin in the centre
so they can watch me explore in and out,
questions and answers.

Every so often they add more
complications to avoid -
a plant, a diver, a treasure chest.

Each week while I'm out
of the way they clean, and
I forget everything.