Category: Green Politics

The Impossibility of Producing a Print Literary Magazine.

A link to this article was shared onine by by Martin Malone former editor of Interpreter’s House which pre Martin I helped survive as a paper edition by creating a basic website.
The price of progress is that the magazine now now exists only online.

The article by Wendy Pratt of SPELT magazine

available to read here:

My response in comments as follows:

I agree totally with your comments above although I have seen a lot of poor quality work riding on the coat-tails of the ‘so-called’ working class writing revolution which more a Bookseller PR stunt than actuality. The print medium died the day Oxford University Press tipped its lead type into the Thames or is that urban myth based on link below? (there is an eco-poem if ever there was one perhaps I should write it).

It ended in early 1990s when a press I represented by actually hand set a poem of mine (I will find and share on my blog) in lead type. They had one of the last machines for creating type and a man came to mend it He was the last of the generation that had knowledge to mend them. The knowledge died with them.

A decade later I helped Oxford University convert ALL paper based Science publishing acquisition to computers and then a whole College’s library. Digital hit hard around the Millennium and since then a younger generation have developed entirely new habits of consumption, dissemination and interaction. Paper unless sold as anachronistic fetish object ( works for Vinyl records) is to all intents and purpose dead as a piece of type in muddy water. So forgetting the argument that internet is green (it is not the servers and electric generation to fuel it alone cost a few rain forests). Where do we go now?

Substack a good choice. I suggest you read the Jazz critic Ted Gioia (brother of poet Dana Gioia) he very cutting edge on where we are now and it isn’t good news.

Your magazine looks great but it also looks like something I would have shelved at Poetry Library in 1990 (I been around that long). As for getting your messages across I returned to ‘the poetry world’ or rather the blizzard of new ‘worlds’ each tightly regimented and screened online (or paper) come to that. This is not because all magazines now are nepotistic (though a good few are or class interest based) but simply because the numbers now are frightening. Like music anybody with a phone and half a brain can be a poet if they want to (before AI made it even easier to simulate poetry) .

I grew up in an era of clearly defined gatekeepers ( Faber, Cape, Bloodaxe etc) which on the whole male dominated yes but because numbers far lower and generally standards higher it was easier to at least work out one’s place in the (singular) poetry world. Post world-wide web that no longer possible one has to find a nest that suits and defend your interests whatever your politics from that lonely tower as global capitalism basically runs riot below.

As a white (working class whatever that means these days and frankly in some cases not much) male aged 65 trying to re-enter the worlds (plural) I on a hiding to nothing and add fact that I been writing about the environment for nigh on 40 years it appears I am now almost unpublishable going by feedback I had so far. The reasons for that are generational (ageism) political (sexism) and demographic as I do not read or wish to engage with certain class ridden circles or even some younger circles of interest any more than they do me.

So Substack is a potential rabbit hole to another wonderland. It does work but if you enter this domain be prepared to post daily to make it work and engage followers and also to engage directly with thorny issues of political activism if talking Green we are no longer in village fete friends of earth stage we are in defined as eco-terrorism (pace Edward Abbey) territory now. Truly engage and it may be that Spelt finds a new niche.. paper is not dead its just not printed on any more..

Out of frustration I took a new tack towards ECO and Poetry on my substack is a long job but it seems to engage people far more than straight poetry offering. You may find of interest.

We are in for stormy weather 

My old style words on a screen and very occasionally a page although less so in the last 20 years than before here.

A lot self-published because I an early adopter and specialist in multimedia. I find the fetishism apparent in the ‘self-publishing’ wrong attitude symptomatic of those who should know better slamming the stable door shut after the horse not only bolted but also shot dead…..

It generally white middle class that promulgate that attitude of ‘I don’t want my poems online’ because they dream of standing in a bookshop with that object in their hand feeling pleased with themselves along with the other 5000 recently cheaply published (thanks to digitisation of the production line) authors feeling the same ..
It is complete nonsense.

I look forward to the podcast…..they are hard work….I ran a music one for a year.


I just read some of this volume at the Open Book reading is Thames Valley Texas (updates at link above or direct here

This is a kind of auto-biography of myself and my hometown of Didcot where I lived for a good part of 30 years. The title is a reference to the love of country music that my family had instilled in me from a young age and the experience of hearing Dolly Parton at full volume drifting across the estate from the working-men’s club on a saturday night.

If I cannot get a publisher to take this chapbook length collection on I will try and publish as a Horsehoe Press pamphlet.

Potentially in future I would like to publish the poems alongside a sequence of photographs I took in 2011-12 for a multimedia project called TRACK which almost but not quite became a PHD in 2018…

FOSSILS: Dark Weather

The playgrounds were strewn with ash
Smoke still billowed from the underpass
Further out in the estuary steam rose
From the tanker now beached and rusting

Lights now only flickered around the estate
On every other day to conserve energy
Milk floats converted to run on steam
Carried bodies of those who froze

Up the icy streets to the crematorium
The one place left they still used gas
The old cylinder gas tanks long since
Deflated like punctured balloons

Horses and cattle roamed the empty fields
Looking for their owners and a bale of hay
But the engines that brought them
Had long since died and started to rust away

No-one now could remember how it started
One day there were fires everywhere
The pylons buzzed in the rain
Then it stopped, silent roads, empty skies

Hands scratching for fuel kept finding
Impressions of leaves and insects in the coal
For a while the neighbours chopped down trees
Built holes in their eco-house roofs

To let the newly built fire-places let out smoke
then the hard winter stopped that
By spring there was no firewood to be had
All the oil and gas had burnt out long ago

Slowly the bones started to appear
Bodies lying in the fields slowly
fading back into the chalky soil
Row upon row of chalky fossils.

The Moon Turned Dark: Dark Weather

Moon Turned Dark

MOON TURNED DARK (LG Revised version)

June 1783 a balloon of hot air made of paper is launched

then a test of silk and hydrogen that travels 15 miles before crashing

into the minds of two peasants who attack the monster

despite the authorities appeal not to be scared of these globes

‘which resemble the moon turned dark’

Next a sheep, a cockerel, a duck are swung into orbit like Laika

Tethered to another hydrogen sphere to test the air at altitude

They survive crashing back to earth and are examined by Pilatre de Rozier

Who in October 1783 becomes the first man to leave the earth

The blue and gold balloon rising in a shower of burning straw

The 7th January 1785 and Blanchard and Jefferies attempt the first sea crossing

leaving Dover they head for Calais rising and falling dangerously

all weighty objects jettisoned they finally threw their clothes into the sea

and make landfall at Blanc-Nez where Blanchard throws letters into the wind

the final weight they let go are bladders containing their own urine

13th June 1784 and Pilatre attempts the same journey in the opposite direction

twenty-seven minutes later it is seen drifting back over land

the two aeronauts observed frantically trying to keep the vessel aloft

The hydrogen ignites sending the two men to their deaths

Pilatre leaves behind the first matches, gas masks and a museum of science

13th June 2021 fires burn bright in the woods near Calais at night

New journeys are planned and wind and sea watched for calmer nights

Eyes turn upwards at the leviathans in the channel the monsters in the air

Some cross easily others fall to earth or drift on currents back to land

The best nights are those when the moon turns dark and the fires are out

We test the limits of our survival from Paris to Mars, seek safe harbour

But the straw burning under our feet both lifts us and destroys our world.

Under the blue and gold backdrop of the live television pictures two men

Dump what they can into the sea, pray that the fires will keep them afloat

Can only see a moon turned dark, a sea turned black, a world on fire.


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