Last month saw issue 83 of The Rialto sail into the world, and with it we came to the end of our period as assistant editors. Hopefully we’ve learnt a few bits and pieces about what happens behind the scenes of a poetry magazine. Plus we have been initiated into the mystery of what other people’s submissions look like.
So, in the best manner of a BuzzFeed listicle, here’s the rundown:
1) The perfect submission doesn’t exist
So relax, and send whatever poems you feel are ready to The Rialto, or other poetry magazines if you must. That doesn’t mean your poems shouldn’t be as tight as possible – but if you wait for the perfect moment you’ll never send a damn thing. So send.
2) You can never pass up the opportunity to ask someone for poems
A surprising development has been a relative lack of shamelessness in tugging on someone’s sleeve and asking outright for some poems. Some affect a shy bashfulness, claiming they don’t have anything right now. But so often there’s something brilliant in the back of a notebook, waiting to be coaxed out into the world.
3) You’ll never listen to a poetry reading in the same way
When someone sweeps you up in a fantastic poem the afterglow will be punctured with a covetous ‘I wonder if that’s been published yet…’
4) You might have a favourite poem in the issue, but you can’t tell anyone what it is
You just have to hold it in.
5) People who say they don’t read other poets’ work because they don’t want to be influenced actually exist
We never believed this. We heard publishers and tutors talking about these mythical beasts but always thought it was an exaggeration for effect. It’s rare but it’s real.
6) You need a decent amount of floor, tabletop or wall space
You can’t really organise a running order for a poetry magazine without some vast expanse of space. If a canyon is not available, a floor will do. NB: standing above 64 pages of poems does make you feel like some sort of poetry god.
7) There’s nothing as exciting as finding a gem
Sure there might have points when, sitting in the shadow of the tottering poem stacks, one of us really really wanted to watch Liverpool lose again on a Sunday afternoon, but faith is restored every time a piece of wondrousness emerges shyly from the folders. Basically, we’ll keep on pretending it’s an onerous task, to put people off the scent or they’ll want to be doing it too.
8) You have to keep selling the magazine
Any and every opportunity you can take to press a copy into a palm, in exchange for the Queen’s coin, you take it with an indecent alacrity. We make no apologies for this. Speaking of which, have you got yours yet?
9) Bright, eye-popping, 60s-influenced covers are the way to go
We have lost count of the number of people have said to us that the cover looks amazing. Because it does. Because it is. One of us has a t-shirt that almost has the same colours as the cover, but we neglected to take a photo of the two together. Maybe we’ll try and rectify that for issue 84.
10) It’s the best feeling in the world when someone tells you that they’ve enjoyed the magazine
It really is. We blush very well at compliments. Send more please.
Poets Rishi Dastidar and Holly Hopkins are working closely with The Rialto editor Michael Mackmin on a programme designed to teach them about the process and philosophy of poetry editing. Each month, on a new series we’re calling Re: Drafts, they’ll share their findings on CAMPUS.