ISSUE 3 SPRING 2013
Welcome, dear and faithful readers, to our third issue. Although the spring equinox has come and gone, it's still a weather pattern of snowfall and bitter cold here in the UK. Never mind. The daffodils and tulips are pushing up regardless, and the rare blooms of The Passionate Transitory's poets continue to flower, despite the ongoing meteorological – and economic – chill.
And what an issue it is! Issue 1 (Autumn 2012) contained 35 poems by 14 poets. Issue 2 (Winter 2012-2013) contained 47 poems by 21 poets, including 10 former contributors and 11 new ones. This present issue (Spring 2013) is the biggest and, I think, one of the most exciting yet, with 61 poems by 29 poets – 16 of them new to the magazine. 50 or 60 poems per issue – yes, this sounds about right to me, and it would be great to keep it around this level.
But how on earth do we choose whom to include, you may ask? It can be a time-consuming and not-always-easy editorial task. Sure, the poems of some stand-out writers squeeze into the inbox and you immediately think: wow! I must take these: this is seriously-accomplished, beautifully-crafted stuff – such as the work of new Passionate Transitory poets Annette Volfing, Colin Will and Kevin Cadwallender, for instance. Of course, there are many also who sadly do not get accepted. So, to repeat, how do we choose?
To answer this, we have to try and define what makes a successful poem, and that's hard to do without writing a whole book about it. Even then it would be an uphill struggle. So just a few thoughts in this tiny space. It helps if a poem makes an immediate impact, if it's self-assured in style and expression (although its subject may be anything but self-assuring), if it thrills and excites in its use of language, if it uses language in original ways to put across meaning, and if it does so in the loveliest and most economical way possible (though this does not mean that all good poems are short – Dick Jones has proved that two of the best poems ever to have been submitted to TPT are very long indeed). Whether you write a poem as short as Bashō or as long as Ginsberg is not the point. The point is "the mysterious, visceral frisson" you get from reading it.
The subject of a poem is by no means as important as the way in which it's written. In fact the subject is almost irrelevant. (And, of course, as a rider to this, the "real" subject of the poem may be completely different from the "ostensible" subject.) You can have good poems about forests and rainbows and daffodils, and good poems about rats and sewers and power stations. You can have good poems adorned from head to foot with tropes and metaphors as gaudy as the Queen of Sheba, and good poems as lean and spare as the body of Gandhi. You can have good poems as apparently clear and simple as the ones written by Hugo Williams, and good poems as dense and abstruse as the ones written by Geoffrey Hill. You can have good poems as short as a haiku, and good poems as long as The Song of Hiawatha.
The main thing – unifying all these different facets and approaches – is an authentic marriage of style and subject, an honesty and lucidity of intention, a truth that can almost be felt viscerally, even if that truth is not obvious at first, and needs to be exposed, like peeling away the skin of an onion.
It's perhaps easier to say what turns us off poems: alarm bells always ring when several words are doing the job of one, when the poem is littered with exclamation marks, inverted commas, ellipses and italics, when a "myriad" of "resplendent" and ill-chosen, outmoded words and expressions "adorn" the page . . . unless they are used for a particular and conscious artistic reason, of course . . .
All of which is a long-winded way of saying: I hope you relish these poems in Issue 3 as much as I do, and may your heart dance, your mind sing and your spine tingle.
Namaste, and Happy Easter, to all our wonderful contributors and to all poetry lovers everywhere!
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