With 17 new issues added to our shelves in February, here are a few highlights:
Ahren Warner’s last issue as editor of Poetry London reaffirms the magazine’s significant role in encouraging both the practice of poetry alongside the enjoyment of reading it. From the opening editorial, Warner emphasises that the role of both editor and reader is to explore writing which lies outside one's comfort zone. Consequently, issue 92 features a wide range of poets including Daisy Lafarge, Sholeh Wolpé and Wayne Holloway-Smith, whose face is beautifully captured on the front cover by artist Sophie Herxheimer. As usual, there are reviews of some of the latest collections plus interesting articles, with Will Harris’ essay on perspective in poetry being a key highlight.
Korean literature is the focus of issue 96 of Wasafiri, which aims throughout to reflect themes of ‘divisions and borders’ - not only between North and South Korea, but between “tradition and modernity, realism and fantasy, family and the individual, and insularity and globalisation”. The poetry in this issue comes from some writers who may be familiar to English language audiences - including two strange and tactile poems by Han Kang, author of The Vegetarian - and a varied selection of potentially lesser-known voices. A particular highlight is an extract from a long narrative poem by, and interview with, North Korea’s escapee ex-poet laureate Jang Jin-Sung. This issue of Wasafiri offers a fascinating insight into the current state of Korea’s rich literary culture.
Identity is the theme of issue 23 of Popshot and its delights include a short story titled ‘A Stay-At-Home Dad Documents His Sex Life on a Fitbit’ by Ryan Shoemaker and ‘My Brilliant Career’, a poem by Barbara DeCoursey Roy about the imagined life of baby abandoned at a hospital: “Lawyering worse / than pretending to be straight, but I learned how to / dress for success, and close an argument.” The poets names are all new to us at the library and Popshot’s aim is to provide a platform for the best emerging talent. Popshot started as a poetry and illustration magazines in 2009, “intent on hoodwinking poetry back from the clammy hands of tweed jackets and school anthologies”. Ten years on it has certainly achieved its aim and is one of the most vibrant and stylish literary magazines around having expanded to include short stories and flash fiction. It’s thanks to the sterling work of magazines like this that millennials are finding relevance in poetry.