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Ways of Speaking

My name is Andy, I am a poet and I am obsessed with magazines. My obsession with periodicals started with The Dandy, though I don’t remember choosing it, I think it was chosen for me via my Father. Soon a Star Wars spin off comic followed, then (a trend of 80’s children’s toy obsessions takes shape here) the 13th floor, a horror mag which was probably aimed at much higher age, followed by Transformers, then Warhammer, then NME, each periodical reflecting a different stage in my development of expensive hobbies, with a current taste for Cycling Plus, full of dreamed of road bike bling that would render me both poor and single if I were ever to splash out on the contents within.

Each of the above magazines / comics came with their own initiation ceremony of language games and my slow understanding of the rules. If I said ‘dropouts’ in reference to cycling, you would be forgiven for thinking of a bearded tattoed man running a bicycle repair shop in the Appalachians rather than where the rear wheel is fastened to a frame. At least that’s what I envisaged when I first read Cycling Plus. Even the Dandy had its own language, I don’t know if it has been updated to reflect current linguistic trends, (a quick look at Wikipedia suggests that the Dandy did rebrand as the Dandy Xtreme for a short period) but certainly the ‘Gazooks’ etc were words mainly uttered in the Universe of Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat and Cuddles & Dimples.

Literary magazines also have their own rules and ways of speaking which is really down to editorial style. It’s hard to say what makes The Rialto The Rialto, putting aside the distinct and often innovative cover design, but it has an unidentifiable energy, in the same way PN Review has its own distinct energy, something in the quality of choice and arrangement of the content and the summation contained within the editorial and then something else.

For me, I have always enjoyed the American journal Poetry immensely, and first introduced me to the writing of poets such as Albert Goldbarth and others. I think a combination of the selection and the aesthetics (simple and clean) make it un-put-down-able.

It is these things that weigh on my mind as we start to piece together the Lighthouse. It’s finding the correct process of magic that makes a magazine feel wanted by the reader, to put it down and anticipate the next issue, to head in to town in hopes of finding the new edition sitting on the shelf of the local bookshop, or the rattle of the letterbox that indicates that the subscription is working. And where to start? To flick backwards through the issue and pause on things that stand out, to miss something and accidently stumble over a stanza or simply a line that tilts the axis of our day and spins us off in a new direction; to be arrested by an image; tickled by a similie and so on; to take the magazine into the wider world; to share a coffee or a beer; to a lie on a grassy bank and be so absorbed you don’t realise you’re lying on an ant’s nest until it’s too late.

It’s our task to find a language, a set of rules that are both inclusive and exclusive, a fine balance between the said and unsaid. Much like the best thing in language, much like poetry. Not too high a task then for our editorial board then. Wish us luck.

Andrew McDonnell

Posted 9 years ago

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