In this age of e-zines, the emergence of a new print-based poetry journal is always gratifying. As a consequence, I'm delighted to have the chance to showcase Butcher's Dog today on Rogue Strands.
How are poetry magazines born? On a whim or via an organic process? Well, the latter is certainly true in the case of Butcher's Dog, as is demonstrated by the Editors' Note at the start of Issue One:
"Each of the poets featured in this publication received a Northern Writers' Award in 2010 or 2011. In Autumn 2011, the group met under the tutorship of Clare Pollard. Butcher's Dog arose out of conversations in these meetings."
In other words, that first issue was something of a showcase for the seven poets in question (Luke Allen, Sophie F Baker, Jake Campbell, Wendy Heath, Amy Mackelden, Andrew Sclater and Degna Stone). However, it then grew and opened to submissions from Issue Two onwards, always under a rotating editorship.
Butcher's Dog is a beautiful magazine. There's real care in the individual design of each cover, in the choice of paper and in the typesetting. What's more, the editors manage to strike an excellent balance in the contents between well-known poets such as Pippa Little and W.N. Herbert and many new names. For example, a personal favourite comes from Issue Three. The poem, titled "Sea Change", is apparently Karen Lloyd's first published poem. Nevertheless, her control of language, cadence and line-breaks is clear from the start:
"That winter after she'd gone, you sat
in your leather chair, the one that didn't fit
anyone else, and called down the snow..."
This sort of discovery is one of the greatest pleasures to be found when reading a poetry magazine.
Two years on from its first appearance, Butcher's Dog is going from strength to strength, holding launch events in different parts of the country. Moreover, it's currently seeking submissions by 10th August for Issue Four. Why not visit the website and take out a subscription while you're there?!
Derek Walcott, poet and playwright of Saint Lucia, died on 17 March at the age of 87. I think I recall my first Derek Walcott poem. It was 'The Season o...