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Spring arrives, and so does Sphinx 12

Dressed in waspish colours, Sphinx 12 is on its way to the contributors and also to subscribers whose names begin with A and B. Going to start on C later this morning. Meanwhile, three bumblebees have been seen in the garden, which is unfolding in the sunshine like those paper flowers you put in water and see grow right in front of your eyes. It's uncanny.



Sphinx final paper issue

What's in the mag?

  • Interviews with David Knowles (Two Ravens Press), Alex McMillen (Templar Poetry) and Chris Hamilton-Emery (Salt);
  • Gerry Cambridge on professional typesetting and what difference it can make to a publication;
  • Jenny Swann on the success of Candlestick Press;
  • Kevin Bailey on the fascinating story of HQ Magazine;
  • Eleanor Livingstone on new challenges for the StAnza poetry festival;
  • An interview with Savage Chicken creator, Doug Savage—in cartoons;
  • The best flyer ever from Fuselit editors Kirsten Irvine and Jon Stone.

I am pleased with it, though it's the longest yet, so Levenmouth Printers' machines have struggled to fold it, and I'm having to apply my bone folder vigorously to each copy before packing and sending.

Sphinx reviews continue on the website in the three-reviewer format. A standardisation exercise is in progress with all the reviewers. I've sent them all the same pamphlet, not to write a review, but just to do the Stripe rating. To remind you how that goes, it's based on the following questions:

a) Production quality (paper, covers, ‘feel’ and design of publication)

b) Quality of the poetry.

c) Coherence/ character/ identify (whatever!) of collection as a whole.

d) How warmly would you recommend it?

Each reviewer gives a number between 1 and 10 for each question and then I total the ratings from all three reviewers to arrive at a total percentage, from which I arrive at a stripe rating. We have half stripes too! Anything 7 and above is pretty good. 5 and below suggests the reviewers are dubious about the publication.

The standardisation exercise is going to show up just how radically estimation differs of the same poems by the same poet. Fascinating. But it should also allow for ultimate agreement on production values: some common ground for that will be the average rating for this pamphlet. The other ratings will let individual reviewers know to what extent they tend to be a high rater or a low rater. Of course, you can't legislate for individual judgement of craft, which must surely vary more radically in poetry than many other art forms.

Good news: Gill McEvoy (Uncertain Days and Sampler) is a runner-up in the East Riding Open Poetry Competition, 2010.

And thanks to Trevor McCandless who sent me this fascinating link to Natalie Merchant setting nineteenth century poems to music. Not all the poems are quite so 'forgotten' as she suggests, I think, though the first -- which is incredibly creepy -- I have never come across before. Anyway, it's fascinating and she is very good. I think a lot about the connection between the music of speech and the music of music, the connection between folk song and folk poetry. I like the idea of singing lyric poems, though in the end I want the sounded rhythm to drive the form -- the drum, not the guitar.

Must go do more folding.

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In and Out of the Dark Mud Bath


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Friday, 09 December 2022