Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Am I missing something?

Issue 5 of Anon arrived in the post yesterday. I didn’t get home until 10.30, so I only had a very brief look at it before bed, but it’s a magazine I like a lot.
There’s a good variety of poems, interesting articles, and it’s very well produced, in a compact but solid format that slips neatly into the inside pocket of a jacket without having to worry about it getting bent out of shape.
On the subscription renewal form (I’ll definitely be renewing), there are two quotes, taken from an article in Issue 2 which put forward the pros and cons of an anonymous submissions process, which is what sets Anon apart from most if not all other poetry mags.
The bit that baffles me, as it did when I first read it, is Kathleen Jamie's assertion that such a system is “a nasty individualistic Thatcherite competition”. I just can’t understand why introducing anonymity into the process suddenly makes it nastier, and more Thatcherite (and God knows that’s a dirty word where I’m concerned). The process is no more or less competitive, it’s just that it’s being judged on different (and it’s up to you to judge whether they’re better) criteria. I presume Kathleen Jamie has herself submitted to magazines in the past, and to publishers, and in doing so she was, however much she might not like it, effectively in competition with other writers (or perhaps more accurately, her work was in competition with other writers’ work).
I’m undecided on the whole anonymity concept for different reasons. I think the vast majority of editors are far too dedicated and conscientious in their work to let personal considerations creep in, but on the other hand, isn’t there room for both systems, just as there’s room for different kinds of poetry? One anonymous submissions mag just provides a bit of variety. Where's the harm in that?
PS. I've been reading Anon editor Mike Stocks' excellent novel White Man Falling recently. I'll post a proper review soon, but I can recommend it.

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