Thank you to all the readers and website visitors who filled in and returned the questionnaire. We had a good response and now Danielle and I will study what you want and report back to Arts Council, England. Also a big thank you to all those who wrote to say how much they had enjoyed the interview with William Oxley. Enough asked for more information about his biography to prompt me to a rare plug for one of the editors. More about his life can be found in his autobiography, No Accounting for Paradise, a few remaining copies of which are still available from Rockingham Press. I have also printed a further chapter about his life from his current writings (which, when I have done so in the past have been generally received favourably) which shows how editing a literary magazine can get you into all sorts of trouble!
But enough of that. As usual when I came to edit the shortlist for this issue, I went through the poems writing the title of each under the three headings ‘yes’, ‘maybe’ and ‘no’. Then having laid them aside for a day or two I twice repeated the exercise. Usually, I find I have a good agreement between the lists. However, between the first and second reading which happened to be about five days apart, I found a much greater shift of titles than usual. This interested me as I wondered if it was getting time to replace my editor’s blue pencil back in the box. Then I looked carefully at the two selections; a selection of more negative poems had been replaced by poems that gave a sense of hope, a bouyant sense to the poetic spirit. But why? Did I need a sense of hope? Then I realized that between my first and second reading, a plane had been shot down in the Ukraine killing all the passengers, the war in Gaza had escalated, another plane had gone missing over the Sahara … It was as though the hope for mankind present in many poems, ‘the bright clean pastures of the sea’, ‘the charm against blankness’, ‘wild bumblebees chasing the moon’, was shining through some of the poems and pulling me with it. I hope you find some hope for yourself and mankind within these poems.