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Magazine focus: Rattle

Rattle poetry magazine

I (oh no, starting a blog post again with ‘I’) was just thinking it would be fun to occasionally feature a specific poetry magazine: mention what I like about it, give a flavour of what’s in it, fill you in on their submissions policy etc.

I’m currently a tad stressed. First I’m trying to stay civil with not one but two sets of lawyers about two completely different matters, then there’s the order for 500 CDs for my choir that has turned into a nightmare, I’m worried that the recent insect bites are reigniting a years-old stress-related skin condition, and about to spend 4 days as a ‘helper’ on a sixth formers’ trip to Belgium when I don’t know any of the students and I’m intimidated by teenagers. Enough about all that, but maybe it’s appropriate to start with a magazine called Rattle.

[Nonetheless I had a lovely day yesterday, particularly on Facebook. Thank you to everyone for your very kind comments about the Hamish Canham Prize.]

I  don’t know how I came across Rattle, but I liked the sound of it, plus I saw they had a competition on at the moment which attracted me. I’ve been tiptoeing around US poetry for a while, first after encountering the Best American Poetry 2012 and then more recently being sent a copy of Poetry unexpectedly. I’m intrigued by the fact that I know none of the names, and  there are styles and themes that seem very different to what I read in UK magazines, although I’m struggling to put my finger on WHAT exactly.

And so to Rattle. It’s a bit bigger than Poetry, kind of A5 but a bit longer. Perfect bound, nice quality paper and production values generally (including lovely blue endpapers)  I was intrigued by the variety of work (although it felt a little heavy on ‘shock effect’ writing – no fewer than 2 poems had the word ‘penis’ in the title – popular culture, humour and shape-poems all well-represented) and the very stylised ‘Contributor Notes’ in the form of first-person statements (“When I was a kid, listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, I thought that art was going to give meaning to my pain…”)

I particularly enjoyed the extended conversation between Rattle Editor-in-Chief Alan Fox and Ellen Bass, rich with insight. Made me want to read Ellen’s work, definitely. Extract:

“I say to my students, ‘Ok you’ve got a metaphor there. Maybe it’s not your best metaphor. Why don’t you make a list of 20 metaphors that might describe this.”  If I say to myself, ‘OK, I need a metaphor here and it’s got to be the exact right metaphor’, I feel like I may as well kill myself. But if I brainstorm 20 or 40 metaphors that don’t have to be good, I may loosen up my mind enough and then I might look at that list and the right one might be in there.”

So here’s the skinny (see, I’m getting into the lingo!) on Rattle.

Based: California

Editor: Tim Green

Published: Quarterly

Features: Poems, translations, interviews, reviews & essays.

Annual Subscription: $20 (I paid $30 and for that it’s mailed to me in the UK, and it arrived within a week although they do say to allow much longer than that)

Submissions policy: only unpublished work but simultaneous submissions OK. Expect to hear within 4 – 8 weeks, email submissions OK. Full details here.

Typical size: 100 pages

Longest poem title: ‘Things That Happen During Pet Sitting I Remind Myself Are Not Metaphors For My Heart’ by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz (a close second was ‘Ringo Starr Answers Questions on Larry King Live About the Death of George Harrison’ by Roy Bentley.)

Are you familiar with Rattle? Had something in it? What are your impressions? I did like the fact that they are firm but reasonable about submissions – all email submissions are acknowledged automatically, simultaneous subs OK. Also when I had a question my email was answered same day by the Editor. And the magazine arrived super quick. Impressive.

Published inInspirationMags & BlogsSubmissionsUS poetry

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  1. Wow, lots of news in here, Robin. I’ve just ordered Best American Poetry on your recommendation and I would like to get my hands on Poetry magazine – I wonder if Foyles on the Charing Cross Road stock it? – especially their current issue featuring Landays, two-line poems by Afghani women. I’ve never heard of Rattle but, to be honest, I subscribe to so many UK mags I’m not ready to subscribe to any more at the moment. It does sound interesting though. When I’m next at a Swindon workshop, I might suggest that we start a group list of who subscribes to what so that we can share magazines more. Lastly, I just have to congratulate you again on the Hamish Canham Prize! You’re so modest. My Poetry Review arrived today and it was delightful to see your smiling face on the front cover of Poetry News and to read your interview. Thanks for another lively post and a huge cheer for your recent achievements! – J xx

  2. Hi Josephine, many thanks for your kind comments… yes it was a bit surreal to find myself in P.N. like that – ha ha! Anyway it’s a precious thing to store up for those days when I’m feeling a bit useless. I’ll be interested to hear what you make of the ‘Best American’ – I see the 2013 edition is out now. I’ve no idea whether ‘Rattle’ is a mainstream mag or just one of the gazillions there seem to be in the US. So I don’t blame you for not rushing to subscribe, as you say, there are enough UK mags to be keeping up with and it gets expensive! I like your suggestion of a ‘magazine library’ in a way, a few of us in this area did talk about it, but we couldn’t get past the logistics, as we don’t all see each other that often.

  3. jaynestanton jaynestanton

    I’ve enjoyed reading lots of poetry on Rattle’s excellent site, one of many great discoveries I’ve made via Twitter. I’ve never seen the print magazine, though. Thanks for giving us a flavour, Robin.
    Congratulations on winning the Hamish Canham Prize! I really enjoyed your poem for its treatment of the subject. I’d just read this post and the poem in Waitrose café between work and Soundswrite poetry group meeting – and one of our members brought your poem along, having read it in Poetry Review, so it was great to re-read and discuss it 🙂

  4. Hi Jayne, how exciting, my poem being discussed! Actually it was in Poetry News, I haven’t yet made it into Poetry Review but some time maybe 🙂 thanks again for your comment.

  5. Hi Robin, I’m new to poetry and am enjoying your blog – thanks for your posts. Congratulations on your Hamish Canham Prize – ‘Ellipsis’ is beautifully structured and moving

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Robin Houghton 2021