I first met Jan Heritage at the house of the late and much missed Jo Grigg. Jo was the coordinator of the Brighton Stanza and to be invited to her writing ‘salons’ was a real privilege. That must have been getting on for ten years ago.
For a quite a while the idea of starting a new poetry magazine had been bubbling under for Jan, so when she put out a call for submissions late last year I was excited to see it happening. I sent her two poems, knowing full well she’s fair but firm in her critiques and wouldn’t be publishing her mates for the sake of it. So it was lovely to find I had a poem accepted, and last night was the first of two launch events. I was planning to go, until I decided this current flare-up of sciatica was only going to be made worse by three hours on a train. So instead, here I am at my standing desk blogging about the mag, and looking forward to reading others’ accounts of the event.
For a first issue, Finished Creatures has an impressive contributors roll-call. Alongside established names such as Philip Gross, Pippa Little and Paul Stevenson are many that are new to me. Poems that jumped out at me on first reading were ‘My American Child’ by Amuja Ghimire, ‘Trigonometry’ by Claire Collison, ‘from the IKEA back catalogue’ by Lisa Kelly and Caroline Hammond’s ‘Deep Water Warning.’
The production quality is high, and I have to applaud Jan’s design and layout skills… there are some very visual poems in this book, and getting the correct spacing isn’t easy. Then there’s the proofing, the ordering, the decisions about typeface, pagination and so on. Yes, there is software, but software is only as good as the human using it, and there’s no software like the human eye with its brain attached. Having laid out the Telltale TRUTHS anthology last year I can personally vouch for the number of woman-hours that went into this magazine. Jan has a background in publishing, and it shows.
The magazine came with a matching bookmark, in a beautiful envelope with old-fashioned string fastening. Classy stuff, 84 pages and well worth the £7 price.
Is it madness to start yet another poetry magazine? Only if you look at it with the eye of a business person. We all know there’s NO money in poetry but I think there’s always room for another beautiful journal. It will be interesting to see how Finished Creatures develops in terms of content, themes and (dare I say it) ongoing funding. I’m so pleased for Jan. What a triumph.
Read all about it here – and you can get a copy of the historic first issue by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – it’s £7 plus £1.50 postage.