I don’t keep ‘rejection’ slips, or notes accompanying returned poems, but I do keep acceptances and records of where I sent things. The Rialto, along with The North, was one of the poetry magazines I discovered in a really good bookshop towards the end of the first decade of the new millennium.
I was blown away by the quality of these publications, both in terms of design and production values, and I was enthralled by the variety and quality of the work within them. I sent both of these magazines some poems in 2009, the first work I’d ever sent anywhere, and the Rialto took one and published it. I remember the letter from the editor, Michael Mackmin saying he would like to take a poem, along with an apology for the delay in responding. I also remember the arrival of a contributors copy and twenty pound note. Since then, I’m delighted that the Rialto has published three more of my poems and it remains one of my favorite magazines. I love the fact I can find new work by, for example, the great Les Murray, alongside poems from people whose names I’ve not encountered before.
A new development for this venerable publication is the launch of the poetry pamphlet competition, details for which you can find here.
I am mentioning this as I received a subscriber’s e-mail today
which contained two quotes I wanted to share. The first is from Michael Mackmin.
‘As an editor who reads a lot of submissions I need to know that a poet is working on the balance between the thing said and the way of saying it (the essence of a good poem), and that she is engaged in the search for the ‘right’ word, the exact right word. This is often quite a difficult judgement to make when a submission only contains a couple of pieces. We hope, by opening this window for submissions of twenty poems, to discover important new voices. At the very least you’ll be able to check if there are certain words, or phrases, or concepts that you over use. At most you’ll be the winner.’
The second is from Gerry Cambridge, editor of another of Britain’s great ‘little’ magazines. It is taken from his book about The Dark Horse, and is published by Happenstance.
‘Like poetry itself, at heart a poetry magazine is a celebration of the human spirit beyond awards, issues of reputation and all the attendant palaver. It is a free space of expression that transcends commercialism and other involved interests. It aims for the high ranges even as it scrabbles in the foothills.’