The Editor is back from two weeks holiday in Italy. We watched spectacular sunsets over the Sibylline mountains, endured a huge electric storm, a day and night of torrential (that’s the word) rain, another day of dark cloud cover (the oft mentioned blanket of cloud) instead of the expected blue, but had enough sunshine to get a bit of a tan. Cherries and apricots are in season – heaps of them in the markets, and the Adriatic was warm to swim in. Interesting to note the Italian seaside habit of walking up and down, parallel to the beach about knee deep in the water, with the hands on the hips. To do it correctly, as Ann observed, you have to have the thumbs pointing forward and down. It does mean that you can take exercise in the sea without getting your hair wet or having to remove your large and expensive watch.

Two weeks without other people’s poetry enabled me to write five of my own. Too soon to tell if they are any good – those Teach Yourself Poetry books all say to put things away for a week or three and then look at them again, so of course I’ll be doing that. Still, followers of my poetry career may like to know that I’ve not given up. I’ll probably try them out on those excellent magazines Smiths Knoll and The SHop in time. Might even enter a poetry competition. I’ve never won a prize and would quite like to.

Will begin reading the submitted poems again today. I’d got up to early March: there maybe a few poet’s whose work is miss-filed but, by and large, it’s fairly safe to assume if you sent work that will have arrived in January and February, and earlier, I will have read and returned it by now. It all takes so long because I do read, with very few exceptions, everything that comes in. I go quite quickly, but if a poet is new to me, or is beginning to hold my attention – with a surprising image, subject, word choice, form etc., etc., I’ll slow down and give fuller attention. This happens quite a lot – there’s loads of competent and interesting poems being made. And my attention is always taken by poems that are really important for the poet – poems that are trying to communicate profound joy or grief, written out of a necessity for expression, demand respect. Even when the poems doesn’t work as a poem the ‘what it’s trying to say’ part is frequently moving.

Issue 70, which we are working on now, will have the second part of Nathan’s feature on poets of his generation. Of course to fully enjoy it you’ll need to have read the first part, which is in the current issue – still available……

Michael Mackmin