The 51st issue of Poetry Scotland was published recently. It contains poems by Les Murray and Margaret Gillies Brown, both Laureates of Poetry Scotland, and by many others. It’s available at £5 for five issues, UK post free, from Poetry Scotland, 91-93 Main Street, CALLANDER, FK17 8BQ.
It’s a broadsheet, containing nothing but poetry, edited by Sally Evans. In its very early days Sally and I spoke about extending its boundaries, and we came up with the Poetry Scotland website, which I’ve managed ever since. It contains news, reviews, comment, advice and occasional guest pieces.
Sally receives a huge number of submissions for the broadsheet, and sometimes the poems are just not appropriate for a magazine of this type. One of the ways I felt we could help in this regard was to create an “Open Mouse” page on the website. Here we can publish high quality poems that wouldn’t quite fit in the magazine. Submissions are sent to me in the body of emails (no attachments please – I’ll just delete them). If I like them, I upload them; if I don’t, that’s the end of it – no rejection e-slips or explanations are sent. I don’t offer a corrections and advice service either – few editors could spare the time for that.
What do I like? Good quality poems that demonstrate poetic and linguistic skills and originality. My reasons for not accepting are various, but I am adamant that standards for the website should not be any lower than those set by print media. The reasons might be:
subject matter (some subjects just don’t float my boat, but you’ll have to find that out for yourselves)(tip: look at the poems already posted)
treatment (web poems shouldn’t be too long – reading a screen is not the same as reading a printed page)
language (I don’t like cliches or abstractions)
form (I don’t like long thin poems; they’re usually just stretched prose)
grammar, syntax and spelling (oh yes they matter)
prior publication (one poet gave me his blog address, where I discovered the same poems he’d submitted to me)
legal requirements (I won’t publish libels or obscene or defamatory poems)
I don’t think I’m unique here; I’m sure other editors have similar lists, and mine could be expanded.