I rejected Harold Pinter – the Editor’s Role, Swindon festival of Poetry

3 Oct
David Caddy and Martin Malone

David Caddy and Martin Malone

Yesterday, David Eddy was discussing the Editor’s Role with fellow poetry editor, Martin Malone. It began innocently enough. Lots of helpful tips to poets, looking at improving their publication chances.

‘Nurturing’ and ‘nourishing’ were bandied about. Don’t publish in haste, not while you’re working through the strokes. Develop as a poet, don’t write the same old thing over and over. Make it strange. Don’t do creative writing courses and become a clone.

“I take poems on their own merits,” said David. Which sounded encouraging. He publishes work with the poet’s name at the end, not at the start so readers aren’t influenced by the fame of the writer.

But then the ‘Tears in the Fence’ editor dropped the bomb. “I rejected Harold Pinter,’ he said.

Martin’s mouth gaped. “There’s a lot of conmen in poetry, a lot of mad people” David went on, to rippled tittering and slightly raised mutters. But nothing to the gasps at what comes next: “Michael Donachy was a terrible poet. He submitted a poem about a biscuit tin, but that was it was about, a biscuit tin. I advised him to go to a writers’ group.”

I asked the spelling of the poet’s surname of the poet next to me. It was given, along with the opinion, hand on knee: ‘Michael Donachy is wonderful.’ I remembered when she called another poet – one I thought was quite fab – as empty as a biscuit tin. And the names? My lips are sealed.

Written by Louisa Davison

One Response to “I rejected Harold Pinter – the Editor’s Role, Swindon festival of Poetry”

  1. currankentucky 3rd Oct 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    Great post!

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