Suspension Magazine is an online poetry magazine based in Oxford which is currently open for submissions. I spoke to editor Ryan Kidd about the status of poetry in society, and his plans for the magazine.
Firstly; what is Suspension Magazine? Who can contribute to it, and how?
Suspension is an online poetry magazine founded in 2009. Originally it was intended as a forum for Bristol-based poets, then the range was broadened to the South West of England. I recently took over the editorship of the site and because I’m based in Oxford, I thought it made sense to broaden that range further, although to be honest I’m reluctant to have any sort of stated catchment area. That said, I’m very keen to maintain the magazine’s links to the locality of the editors; I still plan to promote Bristol- and Oxford-based events as much as possible.
So, in short, Suspension is open to everyone! Submissions can be made via email@example.com, and there are instructions on the site, also.
I’m not looking for anything specific in terms of subject matter. I think it would be a mistake to state “nature poetry” or “war poetry” as criteria for submission. Likewise, I’m not particularly concerned with the form either. I’m just looking for powerful new poetry that challenges as well as entertains. I’ll be happy with that.
Who are some of your current contributors?
Previous contributors have included Mark Grist, who you might recognise from a rap battle video that went viral recently. There’s also Julie Sampson who recently edited a collection of the works of Lady Mary Chudleigh. And that’s not to mention my friend and former editor, John Doak. Although he’s a great poet, John now spends his time creating ambient music and recently put out an EP under the name Fontaine.
This is a huge question, and not one that I can really answer without getting into a huge “state of the nation” rant. I will say, though, that it would be foolish for anyone interested in writing poetry to ignore the opportunities offered by the internet. I’m not saying that the internet is the solution to all the problems faced by a modern poet, but it certainly helps.
Does the poet has a societal role, and if so, what?
I think all artists have something to say about the state of the society that we live in.
Do you think that the position of Poet Laureate should hold more stipulations?
I think the position of Poet Laureate is sort of ridiculous, to be brutally honest. I really don’t see what the position is for, other than to serve as a mouthpiece for the state.
Has poetry has slipped to the fringe of public consciousness, and how do you think this could be reversed?
Oh, I’m not sure. I think it’s quite nostalgic to think of this golden age of literature when poets were on every street corner and were the most respected members of society. In reality, I doubt that was ever the case. But you’re correct that there is a stigma around poetry that needs to be shaken off. I think performance poetry is a way to do that. It’s taking poetry off the page and into a public setting, and not just some hushed environment in the basement of a bookshop.
All of this relates in a much broader sense to the democratisation of the creative industries as a whole, which has largely been brought about by near-universal access to the internet. I mean, we’re benefitting from that right now, doing this interview, and it’s definitely a good thing. Greater access to the sources of inspiration, and greater access to the means of production, will hopefully result in more creativity for anyone who has an inkling for it. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.
Are you a poet yourself, and if so who are your favourite poets and influences?
It’s been a while since I wrote poetry. I mostly write short fiction. That said, some of my heroes are poets. There’s Norman MacCaig, a talisman of 20th century Scottish poetry. I’m also a big fan of Billy Letford, another Scottish poet who is doing some really interesting stuff with dialect and sound poetry. I’d encourage everyone to check him out. He’s one of those people that are shaking that stigma that I just mentioned.
Where do you hope to take Suspension Magazine in the next year?
It’s important to be realistic. At the moment I’m just trying to generate some interest in the site and hopefully have it become a (perhaps modest) source of some great new writing. We’ve already had some interest from some really exciting writers, so I’m feeling confident!