9 minutes reading time (1719 words)

Cracking On with Cracking Up

Or actually the other way around: cracking up with Cracking On.

There's at least one in every publication: in the last issue of Sphinx I now know there's at least two, no -- three.

In my editorial, there's 'arrive' with one 'r': Christmas is due to arive shortly.

Worse is the Grey Hen progress interview. I started the problem by asking Joy Howard about her new anthology, Cracking Up. Only of course, it isn't called Cracking Up, it is called Cracking ON. She politely pointed this out and I corrected the error. As I thought.

I failed to notice that the title came into the interview four times and I corrected only two of them. Here is some of what I should have said:

Your forthcoming anthology, Cracking  On, focuses on the theme of aging. Could that be something most people want not to think about?

Yes and no. Recently, the topic of ageing is getting a higher profile in the media, which indicates that people (and we live in a society where an ageing population is on the increase) are more open to thinking about it. The contributors to Cracking On both celebrate age, overturn expectations about older women, and confront the reality of the approaching end of life. Insight, humour and courage are always inspiring, but especially so when thinking about aging.

Cracking On is the sequel to A Twist of Malice (a cracking good anthology by the way).

Phew. Please take a look at Katy Evans-Bush (Baroque in Hackney) on Gary McKinnon. It is chilling. Poets can and should get political in such circumstances.

Meanwhile, I'm back to getting more of the Sphinx tripartite reviews online. It is slow. I think it's worth it, but slow. The process goes like this:

  • I post out three copies of a pamphlet to three different reviewers -- actually I usually send the reviewer three or four in a batch.
  • I wait for the reviews to come in. As they arive (sic), I read them, edit them in line with house style and format etc and return them to the reviewer for checking, often with a couple of questions.
  • The reviewer returns their copy, confirming final shape. I file it as a Word document.
  • I wait for the other two reviews to come in, each time one arives repeating the process.
  • Finally I've got all three! I move them from the Reviews folder (electronic) to the Ready for Joomla folder.
  • When I get time, I go into the Ready for Joomla folder and create an In-Design document into which I put all three reviews, reformatting the typeface here and there so that italics appear in italics etc. I decide which order to put them in, usually (though not invariably) with the warmest review last. I export to pdf and check once again that everything makes sense. At this point I often introduce more paragraph breaks so that they're easier to read online. (At least I think I'm making it easier . . . )
  • Then I collect up the ratings from all three reviewers, add them up, divide by three and turn them into a percentage eg. 72% and from that I decide the stripe rating. 72% would be a seven striper. 73% would be a 7.5 striper. sphinx7.5
  • Then I go into the website and put the various bits of review into the various online Joomla boxes. There's a bit of fiddling at this stage that I won't go into. I save them and preview them and check once more that everything seems to make sense and that I haven't managed to incorporate obvious errors.
  • (At this point there's a wee snag because I'm working from a Mac and it won't talk to Joomla for images. So I have to make a note of which stripe rating the review has got and then wait till I get to college, where the computers are Windows, and insert the stripe-rating image there.)
  • Finally, with the stripey Sphinx in place for the rating, I can click the 'publish' button and you can read them.

I'm not suggesting for one moment that there aren't still occasional errors, but you can see why it takes a long time to do this. Even just the shift from three Word docs to ready on line takes me about three-quarters of an hour per review. Labour of love, or what?

It is quite fascinating. I know and respect all my reviewers. Quite often all three come in with a broadly similar rating and response, although some are slightly kinder than others, and I end up feeling -- yes -- this must represent a fair judgement of this publication.

But then I look at another one -- sometimes with the same three reviewers -- and two of them vary dramatically. One has found the publication awful, almost impossible to tolerate; another thinks it is wonderful. How very interesting! I know that my reviewers take quite a while to come up with their responses: these people have READ the poems and thought about them carefully. And yet . . .

What does this say about poetry? Such a dramatic variation. What does it say?

Or actually the other way around: cracking up with Cracking On.

There's at least one in every publication: in the last issue of Sphinx I now know there's at least two, no -- three.

In my editorial, there's 'arrive' with one 'r': Christmas is due to arive shortly.

Worse is the Grey Hen progress interview. I started the problem by asking Joy Howard about her new anthology, Cracking Up. Only of course, it isn't called Cracking Up, it is called Cracking ON. She politely pointed this out and I corrected the error. As I thought.

I failed to notice that the title came into the interview four times and I corrected only two of them. Here is some of what I should have said:

Your forthcoming anthology, Cracking  On, focuses on the theme of aging. Could that be something most people want not to think about?

Yes and no. Recently, the topic of ageing is getting a higher profile in the media, which indicates that people (and we live in a society where an ageing population is on the increase) are more open to thinking about it. The contributors to Cracking On both celebrate age, overturn expectations about older women, and confront the reality of the approaching end of life. Insight, humour and courage are always inspiring, but especially so when thinking about aging.

Cracking On is the sequel to A Twist of Malice (a cracking good anthology by the way).

Phew. Please take a look at Katy Evans-Bush (Baroque in Hackney) on Gary McKinnon. It is chilling. Poets can and should get political in such circumstances.

Meanwhile, I'm back to getting more of the Sphinx tripartite reviews online. It is slow. I think it's worth it, but slow. The process goes like this:

  • I post out three copies of a pamphlet to three different reviewers -- actually I usually send the reviewer three or four in a batch.
  • I wait for the reviews to come in. As they arive (sic), I read them, edit them in line with house style and format etc and return them to the reviewer for checking, often with a couple of questions.
  • The reviewer returns their copy, confirming final shape. I file it as a Word document.
  • I wait for the other two reviews to come in, each time one arives repeating the process.
  • Finally I've got all three! I move them from the Reviews folder (electronic) to the Ready for Joomla folder.
  • When I get time, I go into the Ready for Joomla folder and create an In-Design document into which I put all three reviews, reformatting the typeface here and there so that italics appear in italics etc. I decide which order to put them in, usually (though not invariably) with the warmest review last. I export to pdf and check once again that everything makes sense. At this point I often introduce more paragraph breaks so that they're easier to read online. (At least I think I'm making it easier . . . )
  • Then I collect up the ratings from all three reviewers, add them up, divide by three and turn them into a percentage eg. 72% and from that I decide the stripe rating. 72% would be a seven striper. 73% would be a 7.5 striper. sphinx7.5
  • Then I go into the website and put the various bits of review into the various online Joomla boxes. There's a bit of fiddling at this stage that I won't go into. I save them and preview them and check once more that everything seems to make sense and that I haven't managed to incorporate obvious errors.
  • (At this point there's a wee snag because I'm working from a Mac and it won't talk to Joomla for images. So I have to make a note of which stripe rating the review has got and then wait till I get to college, where the computers are Windows, and insert the stripe-rating image there.)
  • Finally, with the stripey Sphinx in place for the rating, I can click the 'publish' button and you can read them.

I'm not suggesting for one moment that there aren't still occasional errors, but you can see why it takes a long time to do this. Even just the shift from three Word docs to ready on line takes me about three-quarters of an hour per review. Labour of love, or what?

It is quite fascinating. I know and respect all my reviewers. Quite often all three come in with a broadly similar rating and response, although some are slightly kinder than others, and I end up feeling -- yes -- this must represent a fair judgement of this publication.

But then I look at another one -- sometimes with the same three reviewers -- and two of them vary dramatically. One has found the publication awful, almost impossible to tolerate; another thinks it is wonderful. How very interesting! I know that my reviewers take quite a while to come up with their responses: these people have READ the poems and thought about them carefully. And yet . . .

What does this say about poetry? Such a dramatic variation. What does it say?

Merriness in Midhurst
Off and away
 

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Sunday, 15 September 2019