After what seems like a long winter, signs of life are beginning to make themselves felt. On holiday in North Wales recently, the trees were mostly still bare with a handful of buds showing. The new lambs were unsteady on their feet, skittering and lolloping after their mothers, the rivers full of April rain. It’s a good time to be starting new things, and so it’s with some delight that I can announce not only my own arrival on the website, but a whole new series of publications for Gatehouse Press. It’s an exciting time for all of us here, and we’re hoping that it’ll really start to bear fruit quite soon.
Firstly, I should introduce myself. I’m Meirion Jordan, and I’ve just joined Gatehouse as one of the team of editors for a really amazing new literary project – on which some more details below. I’ve worked as a poet for a fair few years now, with my first poetry collection published back in 2008 and shortlisted for a Forward Prize for Best First Collection. At present I’m in the last year of a PhD at the University of East Anglia here in Norwich, and with my second full collection of poetry, Regeneration, published earlier this year, I’m really looking forward to being able to spend some time not just promoting my own work, or sitting at home doing my own writing, but actually helping to make a difference to other people’s writing careers, bringing something new and interesting to UK poetry. Poetry has always mattered to me, and I’d like to think that Gatehouse has given me a rare opportunity to make a contribution that extends beyond the limits of my own writing.
I’ve worked with Gatehouse before, as they published my pamphlet Strangers Hall as part of the Norfolk Commission in 2009 – and I have to say I’m rather fired up to get a chance to work with Gatehouse again, this time helping to publish a new literary magazine dedicated to finding and publishing new writing. Hopefully as we start to collect our editorial team together there will be more introductions here on the blog, and indeed we’re hoping that the website will start to buzz with activity as the days grow longer and warmer. As we gather momentum on the magazine, we’ll be talking about it in more and more detail, but we’ll also be able to start talking about where we think it leads. Discovering new writing is only part of the story, and we want to be able to bring that writing to our readers in all sorts of new ways.
In my academic work, I’m very concerned about how books shape the way we read. We don’t just judge books by their covers – we judge them by their blurbs, their spines, their bindings and their typefaces too. But the ways we read are changing all the time; webpages, social media and portable electronics are all helping to shape not just new generations of readers, but whole new genres. We like to think of poetry as being eternal, or timeless, but actually poetry is always here, in the now of our reading. Poetry doesn’t just belong on the bookshelf, it belongs in the auditorium, in the kitchen, in the street and in the palm of your hand. And it doesn’t just belong to rather academic, bookish people like me either: poetry has something to say to everyone. Exploring just how to get people and poetry into the same space, reading, listening and enjoying, is a serious business for me.
Don’t get me wrong – I love books. I adore the smell of secondhand bookshops, just as I love the crispness of a new paperback or the weight of a yellowing hardback under my fingers. But at the end of the day I love the poem more than the page it’s printed on, and I love the sound that great poetry makes in my head more than I like the sight of it on my bookshelf. Not that we can ever quite prise the two apart – but part of the excitement of this opportunity for me lies in discovering the new ways we can make poems happen, and how we can bring them to new readers. In the coming months we’re going to be doing a lot of new things here at Gatehouse, and I for one am absolutely bursting with enthusiasm for what we might find out, for the surprises that we might have in store. There will be lots of hard work to come too – we are still at a very early stage, so early I feel I’m almost letting the cat out of the bag saying there will even be a magazine at all! But we’ll be talking about the process here on the blog, and talking a little bit too about our ideas, why we feel that we should be making a new poetry magazine, and why we feel that we should be focusing on new writing in particular. Each of our new team of editors will have a different slant on things, a different philosophy to share, a different palette with which to colour a new view of the literary landscape. A landscape which, from my perspective at least, is just about bursting into leaf.
Posted 9 years ago