Saturday, 24 March 2012
Editing notes, 2
Editing a single issue is different from editing over a period because it is harder to save work from one issue to the next. Your next editor might not want to be hobbled with your unfinished business. Meanwhile the poems pour in and the centre spread is assuming a shape in your head if nowhere else.
There seem to me two attractive overlapping ideas. Poetry Parnassus, involves very many international poets from the various competing Olympic countries, takes place as the magazine appears, and is one necessary focus. The other that, to some conceptual degree, overlaps, is the idea of providing a series of maps on which some of the lesser known but very fine poets may be located. Not a physical, geographical map. This 'map' be drawn in terms of style and voice and we might see the territory that lies around them. These maps are not geographical but sonar, a kind of poetic echo location. Terra not quite incognita: dragon territory.
Except there are no dragons, not exactly. My impression is that the various camps and closets of poetry are not as closeted off from each other as they once were. They are different but not estranged or estranging. I look at the work of the younger poets and note how their metaphorical sheep graze safely across various meadows without a sense of trespass. They are not eaten by dragons. A moment of curiosity seems appropriate.
I am not particularly interested in a 'new generation' as such: I am interested in the way continuities work in changed circumstances.
These are big ideas and can only be partially carried through in a single issue, so some interesting areas will be missing, but I hope my successor might supplement the loss.
As to what happens when I am in the office that I share with some five or six others? I sit in my corner and go through boxes of submissions. I note the well-known and look to see outstanding work from the lesser known and unknown. Finding such things is one of the greatest pleasures an editor can have. It takes no particular editorial skill to choose that which has often been chosen, though reputations are built on substantial foundations and must be respected. All the same, I hope to be impressed by the unknown. After, all the winner of last years Poetry Society Competition, Paul Adrian, hadn't published anything till then.
There's no lunch hour as such, so we work until there's the need for a meeting. As we did on Friday. About 2:30 I remember I am hungry. The Poetry Cafe has soup and one piece of quiche left. I immediately think of The Last Quiche Saloon, and tweet off a couple of brief fantasies on the subject.
Then back upstairs to the boxes and the shelves, to lists and guidelines. Mike, Paul, Trupti are at their stations and Rachel who is helping out is available to help me in particular. Katie comes in later. I leave about 6pm. Judith is still working upstairs. She usually is, till late.
The Friday streets are packed: people swell this way, sway the other, billow through the still-balmy air. Covent Garden station is packed, the lifts full and breathless.
The new Kings Cross Station is beautiful! It looks gorgeous and seems to make logistical sense. There is less walking, less wondering which platform to rush to. All the same I am lucky to find a seat on the 18:44, many don't. Then half an hour at Cambridge with a Chai Steamer and a sandwich, the last they have left. Finally on to the Norwich train, plenty of room, bliss and exhaustion.
Having started from home at 8.15am I am home again shortly before 10pm.