November to November – this has been a difficult year. There have been deaths, illnesses, ruptures of relationships, losses, that have affected me strongly. And I decided to add in, a few months back, the decision to sell my house and move to a smaller one, principally so that I could spend more time with Ann.

There have been excellent things to celebrate. I’ve a book of poems published (And, HappenStance, 2017), which we are launching at the Poetry in Aldeburgh Festival this Saturday, November 4th. Yet this celebration is tempered by the fact that Helena Nelson, who runs the press and edits so conscientiously and affectionately, will not be there as she is dealing with a grievous loss. We are also celebrating at Aldeburgh, immediately after the launch event, the publication of The Rialto No. 89, a terrific issue, put together by Will Harris, our latest new editor, and Edward Doegar and myself over the summer. It’s the one with the scary cover.

And, going back a bit, there’s the successes of the Nature and Place Competition (record number of entries) and of our first Pamphlet Competition, which resulted in Sean Wai Keung’s delicious you are mistaken which I recommend without reservation. Edited by Fiona Moore and Rishi Dastidar it is to my mind exactly what a poetry pamphlet should be, a sharp bittersweet jolt of poetry that makes you ready to read more of the poet’s work.

The sad consequence of the year’s distractions is that we are marvellously behind with reading your poems. I apologise and take full responsibility – there have been plenty of times when I could have been reading the Submittable and postal entries. But I’m gathering my energies in an autumnal ‘back to school’ way and we will be catching up with ourselves as soon as we can. In order to make this work, and to mitigate the annoyance that poets are undoubtedly experiencing, we will close our Submittable portal for a couple of months. This should take the pressure of us a bit (it can feel as relentless as the tide). We do know how patient you have been and we do appreciate your generosity. If you are one of those poets in waiting I did notice yesterday that I am reading poems sent in in May. We have promised ourselves that we’ll get the next issue out in January.

Thanks for your responses to the Questionnaire in issue 88. On a personal level I’m much encouraged, after quite a few years doing this, by the supportive comments. What’s vital is that we can go into a new round of negotiations with Grants for the Arts knowing that we’ve evidence of our importance to our readers.

And a big thank you too to those of you who signed up as Friends and Patrons of The Rialto after the mail out of the last two issue. Friends and Patrons schemes have become a familiar feature of the Arts Funding World in recent years. We’ve joined in and we’re immensely grateful to those of you who are giving us your money and the vote of confidence that this brings with it.

Back to the new issue. Will who, I suspect, is the next big thing in UK poetry, leads off this issue with a great selection of poems (pages 5 to 18). I’ve given all the ‘trainee’ editors this slot in ‘their’ issues of the magazine, because their tenacious creativity has been so great to work with. This is not to say that we haven’t come up with some genius work in the rest of the magazine (in this issue poems from Hannah Lowe, Kim Moore, for example, and Joey Connolly’s meditative prose piece).

Our celebrating readers at the Aldeburgh event will be Richard Osmond, Seraphima Kennedy and Elisabeth Sennitt Clough. This event is from 5.30 to 6.30 at the Peter Pears Gallery. The event that precedes it, from 4 until 5 is the launch event that I’ll be reading at, with two other Norfolk HappenStance poets, Ramona Herdman and Lois Williams. Tickets can be had via the festival website, or at the door (advance booking strongly advised). And the festival bookshop is where it always used to be in the Jubilee Hall.

By the way if you haven’t got Will’s HappenStance pamphlet, All This Is Implied, go get it before it sells out. He knows about poetry.

The new Nature and Place Competition was launched in a blaze of birdsong, twittering and such like, on National Poetry Day. This time the judge will be Michael Longley (I hope I’ve persuaded Matt Howard, who is the engine behind the competition, to write us a blog about his love for Michael’s work). Full information about the competition is on our website, with details of how to enter. If you don’t fully trust online things we can send you a flier with an entry form on it – just email me, or write to me at The Rialto’s address and I’ll put one in the post. Our partners this year are again the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and BirdLife International. The purpose of this event is to raise money for conservation.
And, as importantly, to encourage the writing of poetry.

That’s probably enough information in one slice except to say that we will be running a new Pamphlet Competition in the not too distant future.

Thanks for your patience.

Michael Mackmin