Friday, 17 May 2013

What’s the point of going to the Poetry Library in the South Bank, London on a bone chilling winter day if I can’t use it as a piece in something like a blog.

In fact the actual title of the place is the Saison Poetry Library and it contains the most comprehensive and accessible collection of poetry from 1912 to the present day in Britain. It also has the hardest chairs – but I think I’ve mentioned this before.

When Alan Dent gave a talk on how to get published during a recent Preston Arts Festival  he brought along a selection of the magazines to be found at the Library. He stressed – as all editors do – that one of the major factors in getting a magazine to take your work is to be familiar with both the magazine to which you are sending the poems and a knowledge of contemporary poetry.

I can’t emphasise enough that any magazine worth its salt will be found at this Library. Depending on how fast you read and how many coffee breaks you take you should put aside about an hour minimum and two hours maximum to trawl through old favourites and the newcomers onto the market ( including the inevitable thick, glossy table breakers that remain a complete mystery to me – how do they get the funding, who reads them? ).

One of the interesting aspects of browsing through the collection is coming across the magazines that you ( well, me actually ) wouldn’t touch with a quill the size of a barge pole. Anything that contains the word ‘experimental’, for instance, is guaranteed to bring on nausea. Silly line drawings don’t do much. Big glossies ( see above ). Stand magazine. Front covers that mention the word ‘Faeries’. The list is not that long thank goodness.

What was slightly depressing is that there doesn’t seem to be any new magazines coming onto the market – in paper form anyway. There are various emagazines around now and the Poetry Library does have a list of those that follow the traditional editorial policies of printed magazines. I’ve had a few poems published in this type of format but it just doesn’t seem the same.

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