Category: Publishing

It’s Been Emotional, an article by Elizabeth Rimmer

23/07/2020

 

It’s Been Emotional

We in Scotland have just taken the most significant step out of lockdown. We can get our haircut -the demand has been so great that mine won’t be cut until for another month, by which time it will take some serious archaeology to discover what the original cut was – visit each other and go to pubs and restaurants again. Museums and libraries can open, with restrictions, and faith communities can celebrate communal worship, though the restricted numbers allowed will make it difficult for even my small parish to function normally. We’re anxious, especially as we recorded a spike in local infections – ironically enough at a call centre doing contact tracing – but we do feel we’re at the end of a very bleak time.

It got emotional. We didn’t sleep so well. We stockpiled toilet rolls, and pasta. Eggs and baking ingredients disappeared from supermarkets – who knew Britain had so many bread makers? Pickled onion Monster Munch and Pepsi Max became contraband and people had to learn to make their own curries, tacos and kebabs to replace the takeaways that couldn’t open for weeks. Some people were working too hard, and some people didn’t have any work at all. A lot of people worried about the behaviour of others. A lot of people worried about the effects on the economy. A lot of people escaped into gardening and birdwatching, online yoga and Zoom coffees and family quizzes. Some writers wrote prolifically, others couldn’t write at all. Almost everyone submitted their work as if possessed. Plague poems and pandemic anthologies abounded, like these:

https://pestilencepoems.blogspot.com/

https://newbootsandpantisocracies.wordpress.com/

and publishers had to close submissions.

In Scotland, things have been slightly different. We were two days earlier into lockdown, and progress out has been slower and more cautious. Nicola Sturgeon has been holding daily press conferences, and taking questions, so that information has been more consistent and transparent. It has also been backed up by voiceovers from Glasgow comedian Janey Godley

(specimen here: https://www.facebook.com/janeygodleyfanpage/videos/vb.1680210945622928/2576371909242976/?type=2&theater)

which have provided much needed light relief. These have been so successful that ‘Frank get the door’ is now a catch phrase, and you can buy merchandise featuring it, some of which raises money for a children’s charity. In fact, I have sometimes had to explain that this is not the real First Minister!

I know there was some trepidation – some governments, the UK among them, apparently believed that their populations would not stand for it, some thought it would require draconian state controls, and there was a level of anxiety that we wouldn’t meet the minimum threshold to make it effective. And it has been a challenge, no doubt about it. It is human instinct to come together in times of trouble, hug, bring cake to friends, organise social events to cheer each other up, hold meetings to get things done. And this time we had to keep apart. Grandparents couldn’t help out with childcare when parents were trying to work from home, neighbours couldn’t call in to check that someone self-isolating was okay, you couldn’t put your arms around someone when they told you they had been bereaved or broke up with a partner or lost their job. We have been acting against our instincts, and that has been difficult.

We have been acting against the grain in other ways too. Those of us in urban environments have lived our lives in a way that is almost entirely defined by human choices – political and economic institutions, culture, law, peer pressure. When we don’t like something, we know that most of the time there is a person whose decision we need to challenge and change, someone whose hostility we need to dismantle, whose ignorance or misunderstanding we need to rectify. This time there has been no such human agency. No human brought the virus. No human knows how to cure it (yet). No human can make it go away or modify its path in any way, and we don’t like it. The impulse ‘not to give in’ is the one our culture most admires, and it’s the wrong one. The craving for decisive action has had to be put on hold, and going cold turkey is really tough. So there has been the usual denial, anger, conspiracy theories, superstitions and magical thinking, compensatory indulgence and distraction.

But we did it. Scottish people went into lockdown, sat at home, worked in our pyjamas, read stories to our grandchildren over the internet and protected each other. It wasn’t about ‘following the science’, it was about a culture of ‘compassion, kindness and solidarity’ (Nicola Sturgeon). There is a long way to go yet, but the death rate is close to 2%, not 25% as it was when the Black Death raged in the Middle Ages. It’s been emotional, but it may just have saved us all.

 

About Elizabeth Rimmer:

Elizabeth Rimmer is a poet, editor for Red Squirrel Press and occasional translator. She has published three collections of poetry with Red Squirrel Press: Wherever We Live Now (2011) The Territory of Rain (2015) and Haggards (2018), and is working on a fourth Burnedthumb, which will be out in 2021. Her website is at www.burnedthumb.com.

Foreword to Interlitq’s California Poetry Feature, by David Garyan

June 6th, 2020
Ravenna, Italy

Foreword to Interlitq’s California Poetry Feature

California is a land of great diversity—not just in terms of its population, but also in the geographic sense. Although Los Angeles in the southern part of the state and San Francisco in the north are the most cosmopolitan examples (both in terms of breathtaking landscapes and cultural capital), there are plenty of talented artists, writers, and other creative professionals producing incredible work in cities like Sacramento, Fresno, and Santa Cruz, just to name a few.

The tension, thus, which arises in assembling a feature devoted only to California poets is that in doing so one both captures a great array of voices yet also excludes all the other forty-nine states that could have made the collective even more diverse.

Any kind of literary feature—even if its aim is to empower minorities (feminist writers, adjunct poets, or artists with disabilities, for example)—will paradoxically always necessitate some forms of exclusion because it seeks to expand the social/political visibility (and rightly so!) of a disenfranchised group at the expense of those who are not included in the project.

Nevertheless, it is the humble opinion of these editors that literary features should continue to be organized. We have chosen California as our lens of focus precisely because it is this state that provides the biggest opportunity to find the best representation of diverse writers—whether they are feminist, Latino, African-American, or Chicana adjunct professors who write poetry, for that matter.

Again, we have not—by any stretch of the imagination—satisfied all the categories of diversity with this feature, but we have tried our best to get close. It is impossible to arrive at a complete balance with such endeavors and it is unfortunate that our feature does unequally represent some identities over others, but this has less to do with conscious decisions and more to do with incidentals beyond our control.

Interlitq has always strived to be international and has published literary pieces from writers working in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and the Middle East; it has likewise published interviews and works by an archbishop and imam, both of whom serve on the editorial board of the magazine. Whatever short-comings, thus, readers may find in this collective, it is not due to a homogenous editorial policy that they have arisen, but out of external circumstances—variety of submissions received, timeline, and general capabilities of the platform that have all contributed to shaping this issue.

Originally, we had planned for a single release of thirty California poets; however, as submissions began to roll in, we planned to divide up the feature into ten poets each, spread out across four months—both to sustain readers’ interest and to make it more manageable on our end; in this respect, we will publish ten every month, so long as we get quality submissions.

Even then, it is impossible to capture all of what California has to offer, but we do hope you will enjoy this first compilation of poets scheduled for publication in the upcoming weeks.

Stay tuned.

Peter Robertson, General Editor and Founder of Interlitq
David Garyan, Italy Editor at Interlitq

 

Peter Robertson – Bio

Peter Robertson was born in Glasgow in 1960, of Scottish and Irish descent, son of William John Robertson, formerly Chairman, West of Scotland Refractories, and Isobel Murray Imrie; he was the step-nephew of Ames Lyell Imrie CBE, variously City Chamberlain of Edinburgh, City Chamberlain of Dundee, and Consul of Sweden at Edinburgh. He was brought up in Perthshire, and educated at King’s College, Cambridge. He is the President, Publisher, and Founding Editor of The International Literary Quarterly (Interlitq), a not-for-profit corporation in the State of New York.

A journalist by profession, he also taught for the British Council in Madrid, and was later employed as an Editorial Assistant for the Alfaguara Publishing House in Buenos Aires. He was then contracted by the International Monetary Fund as a linguist, and for which organization he also conducted research. Subsequently, he acted as a Consultant for a number of international agencies, including the World Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and UN Women.

As an author, his fiction has been translated into several languages, and he has published translations of work by authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Rosalía de Castro, Rubén Darío and Paul Éluard.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, and a Fellow of the English Association.

He lives in Argentina and Scotland.

 

David Garyan – Bio

David Garyan has published three chapbooks with Main Street Rag, along with a full collection, (DISS)INFORMATION, with the same publisher. He holds an MA and MFA from Cal State Long Beach, where he associated himself with the Stand Up Poets. He is currently studying International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage at the University of Bologna. He lives in Ravenna.

 

 

Eavan Boland, Consulting Editor for Interlitq, Passes Away at the Age of 75

Eavan Boland
24 September 1944 – 27 April 2020

 

April 27, 2020

Eavan Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1944. Her father was a diplomat and her mother was an expressionist painter.

At the age of six, Boland and her family relocated to London, where she first encountered anti-Irish sentiment. She later returned to Dublin for school, and she received her B.A. from Trinity College in 1966. She was also educated in London and New York.

Her books of poetry include New Collected Poems (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008), Domestic Violence, (2007), Against Love Poems (2001), The Lost Land (1998), An Origin Like Water: Collected Poems 1967-1987 (1996), In a Time of Violence (1994), Outside History: Selected Poems 1980-1990 (1990), The Journey and Other Poems (1986), Night Feed (1982), and In Her Own Image (1980).

In addition to her books of poetry, Boland is also the author of Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time (W. W. Norton, 1995), a volume of prose, After Every War (Princeton, 2004), an anthology of German women poets, and she co-edited The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (with Mark Strand; W. W. Norton & Co., 2000).

Her awards include a Lannan Foundation Award in Poetry, an American Ireland Fund Literary Award, a Jacob’s Award for her involvement in The Arts Programme broadcast on RTÉ Radio, and an honorary degree from Trinity.

In 2015, her poem “Quarantine” about the Great Famine was among the ten poems shortlisted for RTE’s selection of Ireland’s favourite poems of the last 100 years.

The Elizabeth Rimmer Column/Poetry Publishing in the UK – a Passionate Conversation

Elizabeth Rimmer

 

Elizabeth Rimmer writes:

Poetry Publishing in the UK – a Passionate Conversation

 

Photo from the Poets Market at StAnza 2019

This month my focus has been on the publishing of poetry, why we do it and how we set about it. I have begun editing a new poet and her work throws up a lot of questions that I hadn’t thought to ask much before now. Usually poets have an idea in mind, a title, a preferred selection of poems they want to include, or at least a concept of their work as ‘a book’, whether it is a twenty-page pamphlet or a full collection of around sixty pages of poems. But twice now, I have edited poets who don’t do this at all. When asked to submit poems for publishing, they seem to think, ‘oh, that’s nice’, turn in a lot of poems, and wait for the thing to appear as if on a conveyor belt. And I’ve heard of at least one publisher who does that very thing, which as a poet and not an editor, would freak me out.

A lot depends on why you want to be published at all. One of my poets wanted her work in a permanent form to have something to give her children, and I’ve heard several others say something similar. Others are poets who specialise in spoken word, and want a bit of merchandise to sell at gigs, because performing rarely involves being paid directly. In both cases, what is meant by ‘publishing’ is ‘creating a book’, transforming what has been up until now the workings of one’s own mind into a concrete object, as if appearing in a book makes it real. I have to confess that I have a great deal of sympathy with this feeling, especially as the craft of making books as objects turns out to be fascinating – an insight for which I have to thank my publisher Red Squirrel Press, and master typesetter and designer Gerry Cambridge, who does all the Red squirrel Press designs.

Many poets, however, have other aims. A recent poll on Twitter was quite revealing on this, mainly because the question of ‘validation’ didn’t seem to come up as much as I might have expected. So many editors and magazine publishers are plagued with the kind of submitters who become abusive if their work is rejected, that I had assumed a fair degree of narcissism in poets who want to be published. It turns out, at least among poets who took the query seriously, that poets who actively want to publish (as opposed to those rare ones who see their writing as essentially private, like the central character of Paterson,) have various aims in view. Some have something to say on a topic and feel that publishing their poetry is the most effective way to go about it. Others want to submit their work to the judgement of their peers. One said that she had received so much joy from reading the poetry of others that she wanted to give other readers a similar pleasure. But most had variations on the idea that poetry is a conversation, and they wanted to be part of it.

This idea of publishing as a conversation is one I am very taken with. As an editor, I’m not trying to mould my poets into creators of perfect works of art, I want to help people to perfect their own voice, to help them say more clearly what they are wanting to tell, and in a way where it will be heard without misunderstanding or distraction. Publishing poetry isn’t a huckster kind of activity, a megaphone blaring your point of view into a void, or a cacophony of people shouting over everyone else to make money, it’s a reciprocal relationship, listening and reading as much as you write, learning and finding your peer group and your community as much as your place in the pecking order.

Which doesn’t mean that there isn’t marketing and promoting to be done. Most of us are on social media, or try to read at events where we can promote our wares, and some of us are more skilled and active than others. But publishers themselves have a great part to play. A good publisher who turns out beautifully produced books will have a circulation much wider than the kind of print on demand work that a poet can produce alone. I was at a group meeting of small independent publishers lately, and it’s clear that there is a lot of skill and hard work put into giving new poets their chance to make their work known, and for very little return, at least in financial terms. Most small publishers aim simply to cover their costs, and their own living comes from public funding or related paid work which will subsidise their press.

So why do they do it? Some are poets themselves, and recognise that their will be no poetry conversation if they don’t create a way to start it. Some love the book making process, and want to create beautiful objects. Others love poetry and want to be involved in making good work available. Some know that there are good poets who deserve to be published and are dedicated to getting their work known.

In short, the small indie publishers we have in the UK are in it because they are passionate about creating the means to have this poetry conversation we all value, and this is my moment to give them all a vote of thanks. Where would poets be without them?

 

About Elizabeth Rimmer:

Elizabeth Rimmer is a poet, editor for Red Squirrel Press and occasional translator. She has published three collections of poetry with Red Squirrel Press: Wherever We Live Now (2011) The Territory of Rain (2015) and Haggards (2018), and is working on a fourth Burnedthumb, which will be out in 2021. Her website is at www.burnedthumb.com.