There are still small magazines that don’t.
Don’t engage with the internet, that is. HQ Magazine (The Haiku Quarterly) has now lasted quarter of a century without so much as a website. Its editor, Kevin Bailey, has the most modest of Wikipedia pages.
Its most recent issue arrived this week, with its buttercup yellow card covers, its neat A5 saddle-stitched format, its modest editorial and ‘short review’ pages at the back, its 35 pages of poems unfussily presented, each still placing its author (in neat italics under the name) in a location: David Allen ( Palermo, Sicily); Alexis Lykiard (Exeter); W.D. Jackson (Germany); William Hart (San Francisco), and so on. The seasoned poetry reader will recognise a number of the names inside. But by no means all.
Kevin Bailey says that over the years he has ‘tried to entertain the readers and give an audience to poets of merit, regardless of the supposed place in some kind of poetic hierarchy’. He has made ‘creative exchanges with poets’ a priority.
The magazine has not flown off the press four times a year, despite the ‘quarterly’ in the title. This is issue 46 and we’re 25 years in. But how delicious and typical of poetry’s essential rebellion that it should be called a quarterly and defy its seasons.
Here’s an extract from the current editorial:
'I admit that I have not kept up with the times. HQ has not embraced the internet, and I treat communication via e-mail the same as I would ordinary letter writing. The economics of the magazine are pure 20th century – an old-fashioned ‘Bursars’ account and reliance on cheques and cash. – but it seems to work, and will do so until it doesn’t. . . So there you have it – by all laws that decide the fate of a small press magazine, HQ should have vanished years ago – but for one thing – the sustaining passion of HQ’s subscribers and poets . . . I have an abiding loyalty to the wonderful subscribers who have put their faith in my much-repeated promise to get each issue out ‘eventually’ – and the poets who have trusted my literary judgement. How could I ever betray any of them? As I have said before, I see HQ as the manifestation of a Fellowship of writers and readers – it’s a hackneyed thing to say, but HQ really is your magazine – I simply manage it for you as best I can – and each issue arrives, I hope, like an unexpected letter from an old friend.'
This is the traditional, old-style, little-magazine way of doing things, with an un-famous editor working for neither profit nor fame. A shoestring operation with inexpensive printing. A labour of love. Needless to say, HQ has no state funding, which no doubt helps to explain why it has been able to continue in its own sweet way, refining the art of creative idiosyncrasy.
But surely everything has to be ‘new’ these days. If your breakfast cereal stops selling well, before you know it, it will be ‘new and improved’. A failing restaurant is soon flagged as ‘under new management’, almost as though the words ‘new’ and ‘better’ were synonymous. This is clearly pulling new wool over old eyes. Increasingly, I find the notion of innovation exhausting. There’s much to be said for doing one un-innovative thing well. Or even just doing something for long enough to get it right.
HQ Poetry Magazine is a publication of character and charm, doing its thing. It’s not too long to read with pleasure. It has a wide range of styles and forms (not just haiku): most readers will find something in it to savour. And it even has old prices: subscription £12.00 for four issues (how can he do it for this price?). Single copies £3.50. Cheques (if you still have a cheque book) payable to The Haiku Quarterly.
The address to write to (do you have paper still? Do you have envelopes? And stamps?) is
HQ Poetry Magazine
39 Exmouth Street
The Editor is reading poems for the next issue at this very moment
‘There is no limit to the number of poems that can be submitted to HQ, but the editor requests that authors submit within the bounds of reason.’
No limit? Why not submit within the bounds of reason? Don’t expect a speedy reply (this is submission, not ‘Submittable’). At the same time send a cheque for a subscription with your poems, or if you’re chequeless, try banknotes. Just one five-pound note will buy you the issue I am still enjoying.
Join the fellowshop of a little, unfunded magazine while you still can. Forget Instagram and bloggers (even this one). Kevin Bailey is an editor who relishes letters on old-fashioned paper. Such editors won’t exist forever. Besides, these days it’s innovative to be retro.
Join the fellowshop of a little, unfunded magazine while you still can. This is an editor who welcomes letters on old-fashioned paper. Such publications won’t exist forever. Besides, these days it’s innovative to be retro.