Magazine Reassessments, 2010

I tend to stick to the same stable of magazines, but I thought I'd take a look around this year. What's changed?

What affects my choice of subscriptions?

Beneath it all though lies a feeling that paper magazines are doomed. In the UK the main poetry publishers and major magazines seem less influential now (to me and my peers, I guess I mean). There's more small-press infiltration of prize-lists, and more pamphlets are being published. Perhaps the Web has helped smaller magazines more than large ones - the small mags benefit more from the networking and wider visibility that the web provides. Magazines that I've unjustly neglected in the past are "Magma" (whose contents I like), and "Poetry London" (whose poetry I'm rather less sure about). I haven't seen "Tears in the Fence" for years - it's changed a lot, and is a good read. And "Brittle Star" has done well lately. Importantly for me, these latter 2 magazines publish short fiction. At the other end of the spectrum there are 2 venerable magazines I've never been in - "Poetry Review" and "PN Review". Though "PN Review" has a few interesting articles, I have trouble with most of the poetry and some of the chattier essays. I like its reputation more than its contents. But I'll keep posting to "Poetry Review" every two years or so.

I imagine many of these publications are under pressure. Now that US magazine are often easier to submit to than UK ones I wonder how many UK writers sent their work straight to the States. Besides, for fiction there are hardly any UK markets anyway, and "Rialto" tells people to expect to wait 6 months for a reply to a submission.

But all is not rosy for US magazines either. I'm told that "Story" and "New American Review" have gone, "TriQuarterly" has become WWW-only and "Southern Review" is shrinking.

As the water-hole dries up, strangers rub shoulders. On Poetry Publishing Amy De'ath suggests that both Carcanet and Salt cut through the mainstream/avant- garde divide, though Carcanet tends to print older, "established" avant-garders. On the more purely innovative side, Shearsman remains impressive and Barque keeps going. Magazines like "Tears in the Fence" are less mainstream than I'm used to, but not beyond my range. I need new challenges

In consequence of all this I think I'm going to adjust my magazine subscriptions a little, now that I can't buy off the shelf. I'll also send stories to the US rather than the UK, and take WWW magazines more seriously. But I still have trouble evaluating WWW magazines. I'm sending Flash pieces off, but I don't produce many so I don't want to waste them. I know of a few established outlets - "Smokelong", etc - but keep finding other possibilities. Even London Magazine's starting to print them. Time to take a few chances I suppose.

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Tim Love
Updated Jan 2010