Monday, 28 October 2013

The Poetry Bus

Today I’m thrilled to welcome the extremely talented poet, Peadar O’Donoghue from ‘The Poetry Bus Magazine’ (PB Mag) to Writing Allsorts.   

If you write poetry or very short stories, and would like the opportunity to see your work in print, then carry on reading.  

Alternatively, if you enjoy reading poetry, or you are simply fascinated to learn how a humble blog has transformed into a successful poetry magazine that showcases brilliant poets – then you’ll love Peadar’s inspiring interview!

So, without further ado, hello, Peadar! Welcome to Writing Allsorts, and thanks so much for coming all the way from Ireland for a chat.  J  Let’s kick off with how, when and why did The Poetry Bus Magazine come about?

Hello Amanda, a million thanks for inviting us onto your blog! The Poetry Bus, or PB Mag, started as a weekly prompt on my blog totalfeckineejit. It was to brighten up Monday, the worst day of the week, and to see if there was anything in the Zeitgeist. The prompt might be a song or a photo and a handful of people across the world would sit down at roughly the same time and respond to it with a poem. It felt like we were all going on a little journey each week and we were all types of people, young old, male female, different nationalities, it felt like a bus trip, hence the name! The numbers taking part grew and the quality of the poems was surprisingly good considering we were all pretty much unpublished poets. It was very unifying and uplifting.

We all found that there was a dearth of magazines to send our stuff to and we were mostly rejected.  I realized that some of these poets deserved to be published and so the idea of a new, more open mag was born.

Sounds absolutely brilliant!  I understand The PB Mag is a magazine by the people for the people, to share and expose talent.

That’s it in a nutshell, Mandy, a mag of the people, by the people, for the people. It’s taken from The Gettysberg address by Abraham Lincoln, obviously he said government, not poetry magazine, but it is a wonderful line and is one of the very few things, perhaps the only thing that I connected with at school and remembered. I firmly believe that poetry, the arts, should be for everyone to enjoy and also to participate in, to have a go, if they have talent it will show, and that should be the only criteria for success. You’d think that would be an obvious statement (as Lincoln’s) and welcomed by everybody and ostensibly it probably is, but the reality is far different. Elitism rules, and elitism is the death of creativity. Factions and cliques try (successfully in the main) to keep the arts to themselves, aided and abetted by the narrow distribution of grants and bursaries. There’s a lot of new establishment people in poetry complaining about the dark, who go around switching off the lights. It’s very galling.

Please tell us a bit about The Poetry Bus editors

I, me, Peadar am a poet and photographer. I’m not young and I’m a little bit fat, I drink too much and love my life now, at last. I live and work in a real but imaginary shed in County Wicklow with Collette and a team of goats. I have no Master’s degree in creative writing or Goat herding, in fact I left school early and did a thousand soul destroying jobs and lived a life and this (in my opinion and contrary to perceived wisdom) actually puts me in a very good position to write and run a magazine with a herd of goats. My debut collection ‘Jewel’ is the best-selling title on the Salmon Poetry website.   I say that not to show off but to make a statement, to fight back. They can say a million flies like shite, but I don’t care. It received excellent reviews in Ambit, The North, Revival, CanCan, online at Anna Livia Review.

Collette has a very keen interest in Art, studied it (I forgive her) and has (in my opinion) a very good eye for it. She came aboard recently to help as the mag is too much for one person now and also to add a gender balance. She selects the artwork and helps with selection of the poems. I think the latest issue PB5, has benefitted hugely from her input. And when things go wrong it’s nice to have someone to share the blame with.

Please tell us a bit about some of your more successful poets and contributors.  And, just as a little family plug -  I understand my talented cousin, David Timoney is in PB5 – just thought I’d say – not that I’m bias or anything.

Ha Ha, yes, we are delighted with David’s graphic short story it is beautifully crafted and a new feature of the mag that is getting great feedback. We have had many great poets/writers including Roddy Doyle who will make it someday soon, Ian Duhig, Lemn Sissay and George Szirtes  who has just been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. I like to think we play a part in discovering/promoting new poets like PC Vandall, Sorcha Ní Mhealláin, Séamas Carraher, Korliss Sewer and many more. We always have a high number of first time poets and are particularly pleased with that. Occasionally we will get a poem from someone who hasn’t been published before and may never be published again, being involved in their one brief shining moment is perhaps the most special feeling of all.

What is the submission process?  

I read submissions blind now, which is fairer on everyone, particularly people I may be friendly with. Previously acquaintances would be included despite our ‘friendship’, rather than because of it. There is nothing worse for me than seeing a group of friends of the editor in a magazine, it goes on brazen and blatant as you like. I think it may actually be expected, as I have lost a few friends through rejecting their work. I HATE doing rejections, it is the most awful part of an otherwise totally positive experience in publishing a magazine. I get rejections myself, so I know well how it feels!

We have been taking submissions on a rolling basis, but have decided to introduce deadlines, right here, right now! The next issue is to be called PB$ and will be a money themed special issue. There are no rigid guidelines and riffing on the theme is most welcome. Poems on other topics may also be accepted. The closing date is Dec 31st. All submissions will be acknowledged on receipt and all submissions will get an answer within one week of the deadline.

Details of how to sub can be found on The Poetry Bus Website

What is the next step if our poem is accepted?

If your poem is accepted we will ask for a recording as there is an audio CD with each issue. A final selection of 10 from all the recordings (plus 2 music tracks) make the CD.

So what's a Grimoire

A Grimoire is a fancy title for a chapbook (literally a cheap book) A Grimoire is a book of spells or magic, and nothing is more magical than poetry. We just wanted to produce the best we could for poets. The very first ‘The Geometry of Love between the Elements’ is by Fiona Bolger and has sold 400 copies. We couldn’t be happier. More Grimoires are in the pipeline and will be very different!

How many Poetry Bus Magazines have there been and how can we get our mitts on them?

PB5 has just been launched and can be bought HERE  Please do, it is our finest issue yet! There are a few copies of PB4 left and all other issues have sold out.

How many poets have appeared in the PBMag?

LOADS! At least 300!

I was reading on your old blog, that you have to raise money to be able to publish the magazine.  So I see (as a layman) that the magazine is published to showcase talent, and although there is no payment to the writer, the prestige and exposure is very rewarding.  Does that sound about right?

Well, yes, we hope that people are pleased, and we make every effort for it to be a top class showcase that’s good to be seen in, but we really want to pay the contributors. Until we get proper funding that remains a dream. It’s pretty much the only reason now, that we apply for funding anywhere else but fundit.

Other than poetry, what else appears in The Poetry Bus Magazine?

Full colour illustrations, graphic short stories, articles like ‘My Writing Life’ flash fiction, (very) short stories, reviews and an audio CD of poems and two music tracks. 

Is there anything else that you could tell me about The Poetry Bus?

It’s wonderful!

And finally, would you share with us one of your poems?

OK, Thank you.

Buckfast breakfast By Peadar O’Donoghue

And I or he,
noises outside or inside the walls,
shuffled in shoes or bare feet
sanding the lino.
Litter on the table,
sweep it to the floor.
Freezing footsteps in the snow,
Christmas Eve,
the jewelled prize
a black box.
Your brother shot someone
that slept with his wife.
Money makes the man and the machine, work.
Coins.Trap doors, pulleys, dumb waiters.
This is about poverty,this is about revolution,
this is the inside of your head.
Things roll like stones, crackle on the floor,
Knives, forks, tools.
There’s a queue for hell civilised as you like,
Pause, action, rewind, stop, go
put the chain around your neck,
the instructions make no sense
with, or without glasses.
Clay in their hands,
the thin line walked,
the floor is cold and dirty,
it’s your turn, in you go,
the rats are waiting,
catch their tales,
tie them up in knots
over and again.

Fantastic! Thank you so much, Peadar.  

And finally, I'm dead chuffed that a couple of months back, one of my poems was accepted for a future issue of this great magazine.  I feel honoured and delighted to be part of the The Poetry Bus journey - and wish it every success going forward.


Wendy's Writing said...

It sounds a great mag, Amanda. I hadn't heard of it... but then I don't write poetry! Maybe I'll have to start. Thank you for a really interesting interview, Peadar.

Amanda said...

Thanks for dropping by, Wendy. :-)

Karen said...

Really interesting interview, and I love the poem! I've never tried my hand at poetry, but I do love reading it :o)

Amanda said...

Thanks Karen :-)

Patsy said...

It's always good to hear of potential outlets for our work.

Amanda said...

Yes, most definitely, Patsy!

DAB said...

Love the concept of this poetry bus very much indeed. Always a sucker for a good poem myself :-) TFx

Amanda said...

Hi TF, yes I agree - a great opportunity for talented poets!!

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Unknown said...

Thanks for reading and commenting Wendy.Give the poetry a lash!

Unknown said...

Thanks Karen, glad you liked my poem, now for yours!

Unknown said...

Thanks for reading Patsy!

Unknown said...

Thanks DAB, glad you like the Poetry Bus concept!

Maria said...

Gosh, this is great. I haven't been in here for a while and I'm thrilled to see your blog is so active Mandy. Lovely to meet Peadar too. It's nice to meet a fellow Irish person.

Amanda said...

Thanks for dropping by, Maria :-)