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The Scottish-American Poetry Magazine
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The Scottish-American Poetry Magazine HorseLogoGif

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Editors and Poets

Poetry magazine editors are keen to have their magazines read. Poets are keen to have their work published in them. What often surprises me is how seldom those same poets may feel inclined to take out a subscription to the said journal. Here’s a typical exchange.

Editor: Here’s the magazine I edit.

Poet: Oh (examining it with evident interest). I must send you some poems.

Editor: That would be good. (Thinking: And what about a subscription too?)

It’s not that there is any link between submitting work to a magazine and the likelihood of its acceptance if one also subscribes. There’s none. It’s that the editor would like to feel that the poet thinks the magazine s/he seems keen to appear in is worth reading; that is, buying. One can understand why poets may be reluctant to subscribe, of course. Many little magazines seem, let’s face it, full of substandard stuff. Reading them can be an unrewarding business. You may find yourself promoted, all unwittingly, to the position of editor of what has, purportedly, already been edited. I do really think that The Dark Horse is different. Subscribers tell me so. But we live in a subjective age, one prone to hyperbole and rampant attention seeking, so it’s understandable if any such claims are disbelieved. And of course there may be other reasons for a poet not subscribing. The most basic is that they can’t afford it. Nonetheless, poets, next time you’re involved in the above scenario, ask yourself: if a magazine really seems worth appearing in, and if you can afford it, isn’t it worth subscribing to? Perhaps even worth reading irrespective of whether it’s likely to publish your work or not? Editors love their journal's subscribers irrespective of their reasons for signing up, but love perhaps most those subscribers whose interest in their magazine starts from pure reading pleasure.

1 comment:

  1. Ah nothing has changed in 40 years. I was bemoaning the same thing when I first started editing a poetry magazine in 1970.

    If an editor insists that contributors subscribe they are accussed of operating a "vanity" publication.

    If you see their work in such mags they'll say - well we buy that to see our published work - you give complimentary copies so we don't need to buy one!


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