It seems incongruous to be writing this post in 40ºC heat down here in deepest Extremadura, but I read a remark recently from a U.K. publisher to the effect that he believes the U.K. magazine scene feels tired at the moment, mags not being the mark of quality they should be or think that they are. He went on to indicate that an impressive track record in such publications often puts him off rather than encourages him when looking at new poets.
Is he right? I do think certain mags follow a style I don't enjoy, but then a good few book publishers' lists also leave me cold. Some publishers may argue that the U.K. magazine scene is encouraging a generic, limited style. However, the same could be said of mentoring, workshopping and Creative Writing courses.
In fact, I'm convinced that the last few years have seen the emergence of exciting journals for poetry in the U.K., both online and in print, although there does seem to be something of a divorce between magazine and book publishers. This can't be a positive phenomenon.
These new outlets (and some of the evolving older mags) are providing a showcase for talent beyond the "scene". They become a springboard for the poets they publish - finding our niche via a wide range of magazines refines our individuality rather than dulling it. I firmly believe mags can and should regain their role as the main source for book publishers' lists.