Happy New Year!
So you may have noticed that this January/February double issue has arrived in neither January nor February. Lunar Poetry was created in order to provide a more regular source of high-quality poetry and poetry criticism than was previously available. I will shortly offer a non-apology for its recent hiatus (the ‘Sorry I’m not sorry’ statement being the early twenty-first century’s primary contribution to the art of rhetoric thus far), but first I thought it might be as well to explain a few things, for those of you who do not know and might be interested, about how a magazine such as this one is made.
A little while ago, one of our reviewers was at an event when he was approached by a poet whose collection had been submitted to LP for review. The poet asked if the reviewer knew how the review was progressing. He explained that, as he wasn’t reviewing that particular book, he had no idea. He was then asked if he had “seen it lying about the office.”
Lunar Poetry does not have an office. I imagine very few poetry publishers are in possession of anything so grand as an office. I don’t intend by this to mock the (pretty well-established) poet who asked this question but to illustrate something. A while back, in a review, I praised Emma Wright of The Emma Press for stating that small publishers should be clear that they are, by and large, personal projects, not corporations. We do ourselves no favours if we present ourselves as ‘businesses’ – for a start, businesses make money. More to the point, it gives the reader a false impression.
It is comforting to use the editorial ‘we’. It is a lot easier to say ‘We believe [some grand generalisation] about poetry’ than ‘I believe…’; and it is certainly easier to say ‘We are unable to publish your work’ than ‘I am unwilling to…’ We can tell ourselves this rhetorical incorporation makes us look more professional; but we’re not professionals, most of us, and to pretend otherwise is an imposition.
Like offices, staff are something most little magazine editors can only dream of. The people named on the opposite page all do a lot of unpaid work which makes running the magazine a great deal easier than it was when I started. However the fact is that Lunar Poetry only exists because I want it to. Does that sound a little egotistical? Well, yes, it ought to. Pretty much every poetry magazine and small press in Britain owes its continuing existence to the efforts of a single person who, for whatever reason, believes spending large amounts of time, money and energy on such an endeavour is a useful allocation of those resources. Most likely, the person who reads the initial submissions is the same one who puts the finished magazines in the post.
As such, if the editor of a little magazine loses their job (the job for which they are actually paid, that is, since there is little chance that they make money from their magazine), or moves house, or gets sick, or if any other of life’s commonplace calamities occur to them, the chances are that their magazine will be affected.
In my case, I got sick – or rather, the condition from which I suffer became worse than usual. I have depression. Everyone who is reading this will either have, or know a number of people who have, this illness; nonetheless there are some misconceptions surrounding the subject and so I would like to attempt to write about it as clearly as I can just now. You may think this is not the place to do so, but that is precisely why it is.
Depression is not binary: by and large it is not a reaction to a specific identifiable event – you do not stumble across some invisible tripwire and snap! you are depressed (a switch is depressed, and so are you); the trap does not reset itself after a set period of time and click! you’re back in the room. Depression is a constant. Often it might be a barely noticeable background static, but at times it will become unignorable blizzarding white noise. For me, for the last few months, it has been an interminable car journey in the country, with the radio stuck on Atlantic 252 – brief moments of something like lucidity peeking through mile after mile of audio snow.
Of course, when I set out to produce a monthly magazine, I knew that this might happen; however it is difficult to remember just how bad depression can get when you are in one of your periods of relative coping. The world becomes liquid lead, and something as simple as answering an email becomes a task which can be put off until tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow… until suddenly it’s three months later and it hardly seems worth writing that two line email now, but at the same time you don’t feel you can do anything else until this first task is out of the way. And so you do nothing.
This is not an excuse or a play for sympathy, and it is also not, as I said before, an apology; it is a statement of the facts as clearly as I can do so. Now, here is what I intend to do about it: I am looking for two co-editors to help me produce this magazine, as I feel, as I did when I started, that a cheap monthly poetry magazine is a useful thing, but I cannot produce it alone. There is no reward except the job itself, but on the other hand, no qualifications are asked for beyond an abnormally large appetite for reading poetry and thinking critically about it. More details can be found on our new website. In the meantime LP will continue in a bimonthly double-issue format until the new editors are instated, and the magazine is still open to submissions, themed and unthemed (themes for the next issue are Leaving and Detail) as well as article pitches, letters, etc.
I would like to thank submitters and subscribers for their patience during the last couple of months, and I’d like to say that although Lunar may have rather overshot the new year (even the lunar new year), there is plenty of new Lunar Poetry to enjoy this year. For a start, there’s the next 150-odd pages of new poetry, reviews and articles; there’s also the updated website with new audio recordings, video performances, podcasts, archived reviews, daily features and various other bits and bobs; the bookshop (see the newsletter which came with this magazine); and plenty more to come.
“I say it takes many cranks
to lift outright the weight of this maddening world.”1
1 Quote from ‘It takes one to know one billion’ by Daniel Roy Connelly, published in Lunar Poetry 6, p. 65.