Guest Editor Interview with Stephen Daniels.
1) Why was Amaryllis Poetry started? What was the idea behind the magazine?
Amaryllis was started over 4 years ago by my Poetry Swindon friend Hilda Sheehan. Hilda wanted to help publish Swindon poets and friends and it started as a relatively informal invite only project. After a year, the project slowed and was paused for around a year. Two years ago I offered to take Amaryllis over and invite submissions. I was hoping to find exciting poets within our network, but it soon exploded and I was receiving submissions from all over the world. Amaryllis has now published over 200 poets and is widely read around the world.
2) Any advice to writers submitting to Amaryllis?
Make sure you include a small note with your submission – nothing frustrates me more than when people send their poems with no note. It shows a lack of pride in your work.
A final piece of advice is something I publish on the website when submissions are open: Take a risk – Early on during Amaryllis I received very ‘safe’ poems and I am really looking for poems that are different, poems that reach the parts other poems struggle to reach!
3) What makes Amaryllis different to other mags on the market?
First there is the editor – me! I think my taste in poetry is quite eclectic. I enjoy more formal poetry, but I don’t think there are many online magazines that are embracing experimental poetry in the same way that Amaryllis does.
Secondly I am always eager to find new poets and new voices. I tend to forgive the exuberance and imperfections of a less experienced poet and I think this has built a reputation for publishing poets for the first time – who then go on to be published in many other places.
4) What is your mission at Amaryllis?
To share great poetry with as many people as possible. I don’t think it is any more complicated than that.
5) Describe a day as an editor.
It is fairly unremarkable – as I have a full-time job and two relatively young children, so I tend to edit in the time in between things. Finding 30 minutes here or there to sit down and be invited into someone else’s world – it is a real privilege.
6) Anything that has surprised you about editing a magazine?
I think the thing that surprised me most, was that a powerful poem is not enough. When I started writing, I wrote some seriously dark poetry… sometimes that is all it would have – darkness and more darkness and I thought that was fine – if it is written well, it will be good enough. What I have come to realise through editing is that this is rarely enough.
A well written poem is good, but it needs different dimensions. It needs to be have moving parts and complexities that surprise the editor – this has affected my own writing and it is often the most disappointing rejections, where the poem is well written, but hasn’t got that extra element that lifts it above poems.
One other thing that surprised me, is that most poems are good. This may sound ridiculous, but what I have found from people submitting is that they perceive a rejection as the poem not being good. In my experience that is rarely the case – it is more often the case that the poem lacks something I am looking for, or that it wasn’t right at that time. It is likely that the poem will be picked up by a different editor. Don’t take the rejection process too seriously – it is just one person’s opinion.
7) Any upcoming projects we should know about?
No – other than submissions are re-opening in November!