Monday, 28 June 2010

Three Magazines

The small press scene in Britain is thriving, says I. Helena Nelson's Sphinx, which finished this year with issue 12, was entirely dedicated to interviews and features on non-mainstream publishers of books, pamphlets, literary journals and zines, and never ran short of material (it was wound up due to time and costs, and will continue in part in an online format). Here's three recent discoveries of mine, all well worth investigation. All of them feature a mixture of poetry, fiction and art and all are published by either one-man bands or very small teams of individuals who have invested their time and cash into these ventures with next to no expectation of financial reward.

Polarity #1: Death & Taxes
Polarity is the brainchild of George Ttoouli, whose debut collection Static Exile I've reviewed for Dr F's Irregular Features. Under him, the poetry editor is the excellent, Eric Gregory-winning James Brookes, and there's a small team of other dedicated individuals handling other aspects. Issue 1 is a beaut, in full colour and packaged with a free pamphlet, all for a tenner. The contents have a gleefully surrealist/anarchistic bent, and the layout is exemplary, from lushly arranged colour photographs to poems swimming in space. The names that crop up aren't the usual ones doing the rounds in poetry magazines either - this is mostly new blood.

Polarity website

Dwang #2
Dwang is a huge, hand-bound, limited edition annual, put together by Michael Curran (we've interviewed him for Irregular Features here). The quality of the binding is exceptional - I quote from the website:
"Fully bound in Colorado Loire Green cloth covered boards; 3-page stepped' 160gsm Canson Mi-Tientes front endpapers—the page colours being Poppy Red, Havana Brown and Deep Dark Blue; 160gsm Canson Mi-Tientes Poppy Red back endpapers; 85gsm Off-White Fabriano Bio Prima archival quality acid-free text paper."
 Much of this issue is given over to a beautiful short comic, For Whom the Balloon Tows, by Kelsie T. Harder, originally published in 1969, and there's a general taste of counterculture to many of the contributions. Curran is avowedly catering to the underground, with little here that could be described as mainstream.

Dwang at the Tangerine Press website

Nutshell #2
Nutshell is a different prospect again. The cheapest of the three at a bargainous £3.50, its current issue carries interviews with Don Paterson (during which he tells the well-prepared interviewer: "Oh, you're good.")  and Simonetta Agnello Hornby and runs to 80 pages. The contents are black and white, but this doesn't diminish much from the art - photography, collage, line drawings and computer art all feature. Again, the quality of the writing is nothing to be sniffed at, even though nearly every contributor was a new name to me. Their website is also rather spiffy, and the editors keep the blog regularly updated with more articles and news.

Nutshell website

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