Hello Amanda, a million thanks for inviting us onto your blog! The Poetry Bus, or PB Mag, started as a weekly prompt on my blog totalfeckineejit. It was to brighten up Monday, the worst day of the week, and to see if there was anything in the Zeitgeist. The prompt might be a song or a photo and a handful of people across the world would sit down at roughly the same time and respond to it with a poem. It felt like we were all going on a little journey each week and we were all types of people, young old, male female, different nationalities, it felt like a bus trip, hence the name! The numbers taking part grew and the quality of the poems was surprisingly good considering we were all pretty much unpublished poets. It was very unifying and uplifting.
We all found that there was a dearth of magazines to send our stuff to and we were mostly rejected. I realized that some of these poets deserved to be published and so the idea of a new, more open mag was born.
Ha Ha, yes, we are delighted with David’s graphic short story it is beautifully crafted and a new feature of the mag that is getting great feedback. We have had many great poets/writers including Roddy Doyle who will make it someday soon, Ian Duhig, Lemn Sissay and George Szirtes who has just been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. I like to think we play a part in discovering/promoting new poets like PC Vandall, Sorcha Ní Mhealláin, Séamas Carraher, Korliss Sewer and many more. We always have a high number of first time poets and are particularly pleased with that. Occasionally we will get a poem from someone who hasn’t been published before and may never be published again, being involved in their one brief shining moment is perhaps the most special feeling of all.
I read submissions blind now, which is fairer on everyone, particularly people I may be friendly with. Previously acquaintances would be included despite our ‘friendship’, rather than because of it. There is nothing worse for me than seeing a group of friends of the editor in a magazine, it goes on brazen and blatant as you like. I think it may actually be expected, as I have lost a few friends through rejecting their work. I HATE doing rejections, it is the most awful part of an otherwise totally positive experience in publishing a magazine. I get rejections myself, so I know well how it feels!
Well, yes, we hope that people are pleased, and we make every effort for it to be a top class showcase that’s good to be seen in, but we really want to pay the contributors. Until we get proper funding that remains a dream. It’s pretty much the only reason now, that we apply for funding anywhere else but fundit.