The Rialto

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.’



The Poetry Business


It is always good to have work published in magazines you really admire. The North, published by the Poetry Business, is such a magazine.

I first submitted some poems (in retrospect, probably not very good poems) in 2010. They came back with a note from Peter Sansom. He wrote that although they wouldn’t be taking any of my poems this time, they liked things in every poem. I was disappointed of course, but later realised that such encouragement isn’t always forthcoming from busy editors, many of whom send out printed rejection slips or standard e-mails.

The following year I took out a subscription to the magazine and went up to Sheffield for a workshop or two. I was extremely nervous at first, but after a couple of visits I was greeted by Peter and Ann as an old friend. I also got to meet some lovely supportive people, including John ‘The Great Fogginzo’ Foggin, Will Kemp and River Woolton.

My first poem in the magazine appeared in 2012 alongside poets whose work I greatly admire- poets like Rory Waterman, Kim Moore, Suzannah Evans and Julie Mellor. A lot has happened since my first forays into the poetry world in 2009 and I’ve been extremely fortunate. Earlier this year Pam Thompson invited me to support Peter and Ann, along with the brilliant Maria Taylor, at the Y theatre in Leicester. I’m pleased to say I have two poems in the latest Issue – actually three poems, since David Cooke quotes my little poem ‘Wren’ in its entirety in his rather generous review of ‘The Sun Bathers’. This issue of the magazine has been guest edited by Jonathan Davidson and Jackie Wills and contains 138 pages of poems, articles, reviews and features.