Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Poetry and the Listener

There are two mainstream publications in New Zealand that make quality poetry more accessible to the general reader - the Listener and North and South. The only other journals that regularly publish poetry are the small circulation literary magazines.
North and South being monthly publishes twelve poems a year. The Listener is a weekly which publishes television listings, but also articles, reviews etc of general interest and therefore by publishing a poem an issue, brings us fifty two poems a year. Except that sometimes it leaves them out. And recently it has been suggested that they will stop publishing poetry because of the economic recession. For more on this see Beatties Book Blog here.

As a reader, the first thing I look for when I get my weekly copy of the Listener is the poem. I'm always disappointed if they've missed it out. It is one way of getting exposure to a wide range of New Zealand poets. If all I wanted was the TV listings, I could get them from much cheaper rival publications, or from the newspaper.

Writers of novels don't rely on magazines. It may be hard to get a first novel published, but the only real way is to write it and send it out to publishers, directly or through an agent. Poetry is different. I've been surprised at some of the names I've heard nominated for "best first book of poetry" in our book awards, because often they are poets who have been publishing in magazines for year. The market for poetry books is so small, that publishers want to see a good publication history in magazines before they will consider a book deal. There are few enough magazines out there that the loss of even one is - well, I won't say tragic, when there are real tragedies in which people lose their lives - but it is very disappointing.

Doubly so because the Listener apparently pays quite well, from what I've heard.

New Zealanders - if you want to contact the Listener, the arts editor concerned is Guy Somerset, and the website has contact details.


Kay Cooke said...

I have been afraid for the Listener poem for quite some time .. as for ever being published (although I have had one poem published a few years ago) I think it's an impossible endeavour.

Jan said...

Interesting article, Catherine.