item3f1 item3f2 item3f1a item3f1a2
The Scottish-American Poetry Magazine
item3f1d item3f1b item3f1c item3f1c1
The Scottish-American Poetry Magazine HorseLogoGif

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A new issue and a new website

Horse 24 has just appeared, and I love the flurry of responses when a new issue’s ‘out’. It is a handsome issue with a red cover — Pantone 485C, for those who are interested—and white lettering with what looks like silver fleurons, but a silver which is actually a fade on black and thus saves money at the printers.The UK copies have been out for a few weeks; the American ones will be arriving around now. And the new website is now ‘live’, of course; in a few weeks the old one, hosted by Edinburgh University, will be taken down. It was largely static, and I began to think it ridiculous that the Horse didn’t have an online subscription facility, which we now have. I’ll be interested to see how many people use it as opposed to writing cheques. My guess is, a substantial number, particularly if my own purchasing habits are anything to go by.

Where websites and so on are concerned I’m an instinctive techophobe who can turn technophile if it’s for a good reason. I find something honest and fundamental about an old fountain pen filled with Noodler’s black ‘bulletproof’ ink but the technology can be exhilarating if put to good use. I remember years ago asking Philip Hobsbaum what he would do if all the software in his new computer had been unrecognisably updated. “Oh well,” he said in his assumed RADA-patrician voice, “I should just have to learn it again then.” I like that attitude, though of course there are limits. At the other extreme is my friend John Lucas who is a committed technophobe and has his prose emailed to me by a secretary. But he’s a good writer so I don’t bother about his Luddite ways. He was telling me a few weeks ago, with some glee, that he’d just been called, not unkindly, I think, ‘a troglodyte’ by another editor. He’s reviewing the new Bloodaxe Identity Parade anthology for Horse 25. It will be interesting to see what sort of stir this book makes—85 poets, with the objective criteria for elegibility for inclusion an age limit of 50 and a requirement that the particular poet didn’t publish a first collection before the mid 1990s. Certainly the consideration in the Horse will be among the most substantial it will receive anywhere.

A few weeks ago a well known poet-critic praised me for the ‘inspired and selfless work’ of doing the magazine. I’m not sure how selfless editing a poetry magazine is. With some journals, of course, in which editorships are salaried positions, the notion of selflessness doesn’t apply. The editors of Parnassus in conversation a few years ago estimated their running costs as around $100,000 a year. The London Review of Books was recently reported in British broadsheets as being in debt to the tune of £27 million, subsidized by its editor’s trust fund. But even where earning a living isn’t the primary motive or reward the self is always implicated. I see the Horse as an extension of my other literary activity, not in conflict with it. I see my poetry as central to everything else I do, irrespective of what the wider world makes of it — irrespective insofar as is humanly possible. Probably the Horse improves my poetry in that it stops me writing it a fair bit of the time.

1 comment:

  1. Gerry,
    Let me, as a born Scotsman of Shetland ancestry, exiled at the age of three to California and now with my New Zealand wife walking the banks of the shallow, sterilized Avon River in her natal city, Christchurch N.Z., be the first to post a comment on your blog. Not that I have anything special to say, but I see nothing approaching the poetic interest or quality of THE DARK HORSE down here, and stepping across to Australia tomorrow, I know I will find good things in Les Murray's QUADRANT (as literary editor he is not responsible for the leadenly right wing politics of the rest of it--which you escape by keeping politics out of your stable), but elsewhere I doubt I'll find the blend of formal and non-formal verse which you mix so effectively.

    However, I will take most unseemly advantage of this occasion to point your readers to Parts IV and II of my translation of SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT in the HUDSON REVIEW (Winter 2010 and 2009, respectively), picked up by Paula Deitz after you had snitched the juiciest bits of Part III and some good stanzas from Part I for the HORSE (Nos. 19 and 17). It's now ready to be made a book of, and I have two publishers, one a fine printer, the other a respected publisher, nibbling at the text with a thought of the latter printing offset what the former lays out in lead and presses into rich paper in a couple of hundred copies. Anyone who'd like to hear how this progresses should ask me at

    Good luck with your newest issue, and this new website,
    John Ridland (usually in Santa Barbara, California)


horse18cover1a horse20 Horse22cover