hundredth edition! That makes you a Methuselah among
web zines," wrote Richard Fein when I reminded
him we had an anniversary coming up.
It certainly seems quite a
while since I decided to use a tiny allotment of
"free" webspace for a poetry magazine. I
sailed into it with very little idea of where we were
Carvosso's credo gave us a
flag to wave, but was, of course, quite impossible to
live up to in the real world.
So we learnt on the job. As the man
in charge, I've made a point of not straitjacketing
myself with too many editorial principles beyond
choosing to print the poems that appeal to me. I'm
rather proud of the fact that most Snakeskin
poems are rather different from the ones I write
myself. We've fostered variety in every way we can.
Let me point proudly to this month's issue. We
feature poets from at least three continents. There
are poems by Snakeskin regulars
next to work by writers we've never come across
before. There are young poets and older ones. There
are serious poems and jokes. There are pleasant poems
and uncomfortable ones. You'll find free verse next
to traditional metre.
So is there such a thing as a
typical Snakeskin poem?
Some people think so. A journal who kindly links to
us appends the description "Very British,"
which we don't mind at all, but it surprises us when
many issues have not a stanza of UK content. Others
perceive us (often gratefully) as an oasis where
rhyme and metre are welcome in the otherwise
unmetrical wilderness of the Internet. Fair enough,
but rhymed poems actually form only a smallish
proportion of the work on offer at Snakeskin.
Looking through past issues, I
suppose I can see some patterns in the verse we've
chosen to print. Snakeskin
likes poems about human beings more than poems about
landscapes, or things, or abstractions. Snakeskin
likes poems that celebrate. Snakeskin
likes sexy poems. Snakeskin
likes jokes. Snakeskin
likes poems that apply intelligence to everyday life.
is not keen on sermons. Snakeskin
hates bossy poems. Snakeskin
is wary of poems that are too fond of their own
opinions about politics or God. Snakeskin
doesn't much like poems that seem to have been
written for the sake of writing a poem, rather than
to share something (a perception, a story, a game)
with the reader.
likes experiments. Our hypertexts and intertexts are
a serious attempt to see what poems can do in an age
that is moving away from paper. But we like
experiments that include and/or involve the reader,
not ones that exclude him/her. We're not that fond of
Dr Johnson said that the purpose of
literature was to help a man better to enjoy life or
better to endure it.
We'll drink to that. Here's to the
next hundred issues.