One thread of an online forum I take part in asked if poetry editors need to be poets. Why, we asked ourselves, would any poet want to be an editor?

Probably you don’t need to be a poet to edit a poetry magazine, but it certainly helps. The two roles complement each other. An editor needs to have a feel for what a poem is trying to do, where it has come from, what the poet might want to achieve. The more the editor understands about the actual practice of creating a poem, the easier it is to decide if something “works” or “fits” or “is clichéd”. In fact, an editor who is also a poet can sometimes get under the skin of a poem and see why it is the way it is, and perhaps also how it might be better.

A good poet needs to be a good editor of their own work, but can also learn by editing the work of others. A poet who’s an editor has to brush against all sorts of ideas and approaches which he or she might never otherwise encounter. Making a conscious decision about whether unexpected poems are “good” or “interesting” or “work well” forces you to be more aware of a whole host of considerations you might not normally attend to in your own work. So judging the work of others also helps you formulate your own poetics, though largely in a sort of case by case way: you gradually learn what things work in poetry for you, and what you want to avoid.

The editors in this forum had a long list of things they wanted to avoid in poems sent to them. I won’t bore you with the list here, but what it boiled down to was that editors wanted to be excited. They wanted to be energised, aroused, surprised, intrigued, made to sit up or even spin around, made to think and made to feel. Editors spend a lot of time reading a large amount of not very exciting material. So when something special or different or startling or simply brilliantly executed lands in their inboxes, that’s when they feel that the job is worth the effort.

And, of course, editors like the buzz of putting work that’s excited them in front of others. We’re all keen to excite our readers. Rosemary and I are really pleased with Issue 3 of Antiphon for this reason. Each issue, we’ve felt, has offered more work that has surprised and delighted us, each time in slightly different ways. Again we're able to bring you a wide range of styles and impacts, from the mysterious to the energetic, from the dark to the illuminating. We asked for poems on the theme of technology to celebrate the Turing centenary.  Our initial idea was to have a separate Act of these poems, but apart from a few that address computing and technology head-on, it became difficult to separate them from the other poems - like the technologies themselves, the ideas provide a backdrop for wider themes.  We have therefore scattered the strictly technological in with work concerned with very different ideas, and we think it provides an interesting contrast.

We’re very pleased with Antiphon’s success. So now we’re wondering how it might develop. We’re thinking that we could include more poems, or more reviews, or perhaps more articles. We’re wondering about offering a pdf version readers can print and keep. Would a featured poet be a good idea? Should we have a themed section in each issue? Would a “readers’ letters” section be a good idea? Or perhaps a popular vote for the best poem in each issue?

We’d like you to tell us what works in our magazine, and what you might perhaps like to see more of. Email us with your views and ideas, and we’ll see whether we can implement some of the best. We want Antiphon to grow, and we’d like our readers to help feed that growth. You can This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. here, or you might like to add a note to our Facebook page.

And, if you are going to write to us, you might want to polish up a sonnet or two, too. Issue 4 will have a sonnet theme. Send us your sonnets. We want to see how you can give the sonnet a contemporary twist, but we’re keen on the traditional forms, too.

Noel Williams


Alan Turing

Alan Turing was an English mathematician who was highly influential in the development of computer science and the creation of modern computers.  Nature magazine recently called him ‘one of the top scientific minds of all time’.  He defined how a computer could be created to read instructions and follow a list of rules to produce an output, and what type of problems it could tackle. He was also involved in the cracking of the Enigma machines used by the Nazis in World War II to encode messages – particularly important in reducing the loss of shipping by Nazi submarines. He later worked on ideas about mathematical biology, brains and artificial intelligence – including the Turing Test. He was convicted of homosexuality in 1952 and died from cyanide poisoning in 1954, believed to be by his own hand. His achievements are now being more widely appreciated as war-time papers are declassified.

Alan Turing on wikipedia
Alan Turing Centenary


We're also pleased to promote a memorial to the wonderful poet, short story writer and man, Archie Markham. The EA Markham Fellowship was established at Sheffield Hallam University, UK, to honour the founder of the MA Writing. The 2012 award will be for poetry. Aspiring poets are invited to apply for the course by November 1 2012, submitting a sample of no more than 8 poems and indicating that they wish to be considered for the Markham Fellowship. The chosen winner will be admitted onto the course, all tuition fees paid. See Sheffield Hallam University for more details.