Wandering, but far from Lonely – In the Cloud : Guest Editorial by Ian Watson, Irish Poet, Editor, Essayist and Teacher.
In his editorial for the March 2016 issue, Terry McDonagh quoted Michael Longley’s If I knew where poetry came from, I’d go there. When I was recently invited to give a talk in Bremen on the question: “Where do poems come from?” I asked my audience to consider the follow-up questions: “Where do poems go to?” and “Why do they often not get there?” While the answers I proposed to the first and third questions can be filed under That’s Another Story, it is the second that is relevant here. The ‘small’ poetry magazines are our first port of call as both poets and readers; they should be cherished like plantlings.
For twenty years I taught Creative Writing (we called it Literary Writing) and for eighteen years I co-edited a literary print magazine of poetry and short fiction. newleaf grew from an outlet for my students’ work to being an international platform for poets from the whole world map, from left to right, from the western Pacific coast to the eastern Pacific coast: http://www.fb10.uni-bremen.de/newleaf/ We nurtured many poets who have made it on to the established published page, not just in magazines but with books of their own. (I’m seriously considering starting a series on our Facebook page entitled You Read Them First in newleaf. Many of our authors have praised the magazine on their websites and blogs as the place it all started for them. And then in 2012, after 28 issues, we went bankrupt, just like that. There were various reasons, none of which had to do with the quality of the contributions or the look of the mag. Some had to do with the cost of paper and printing, so I have come to realise that at least one future for good poetry is up in the Cloud, where we can pluck stanzas out of the air. Live Encounters’ brave quantum leap into verse means translating the magazine’s humanist philosophy into the language of poetry, and in this fourth issue, Live Encounters Poetry shows itself to be going from strength to strength.
As I know to my cost, magazines can only live for so long on energy and love. So support this one in any way you can afford, and you will help keep alive not only a platform for good poetry you can write but also a comfortable place where you can read it with enjoyment.
Ian Watson was born in Belfast but has now spent most of his life in Bremen, Northern Germany, where he worked as a senior lecturer in British and Irish Literature and Creative Writing. He has published poems, articles and literary translations widely and also worked for radio and television in Germany. From 1994 to 2012 he edited newleaf magazine and ran newleaf press. His recent publications include two books of poetry and short prose Kurzpassspiel (German) and Riverbank City | A Bremen Canvas, and his collection Granny’s Interpreter was published in March 2016 by Salmon Poetry in Ireland.
© Ian Watson