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On poetry magazines: Butcher’s Dog, Prole, Frogmore Papers

This is the first of a mini-series about print poetry magazines. Although I do my quarterly spreadsheet, there’s no room for any description of the mags, so I thought it would be nice to feature some of my favourites as a reader, where I like to submit myself and what I subscribe to. There are so many poetry magazines, and it’s impossible to subscribe to them all. But I’m a firm believer in reading a magazine before submitting to it, and subscribing is even better, both from the point of view of a magazine’s finances, and also as a reader you get a much better feel for what it’s about. Quite often a subscription for two or three issues doesn’t cost much more than buying a single issue, once you factor in postage.

I subscribe to mags on and off, on roughly a revolving basis (say 2 or 3 a year) which I find affordable. There are some I go back to, some I don’t, and the reasons can vary. I’m interested in poetry and poetry reviews rather than short stories or artwork per se (unless it’s, say, Granta). Sometimes a subscription lapses because the magazine in question hasn’t reminded me to re-subscribe, which is a shame. Sometimes I get reminded too many times to resubscribe, which is off-putting. I know! I’m hard to please.

The other day it was time to subscribe to some new titles, and I decided to give PN Review a proper try. I’ve only ever read the odd single issue, and I found it a bit academic. But now I’m getting into the academic mindset, perhaps it’s a good time to try it again? PN Review hasn’t arrived yet, but I’ve also just subbed to Butcher’s Dog, a small mag, but with a big bite, perhaps. I sat next to editor Jo Clement at a Poetry Book Fair once, and came away with a couple of back issues. Here’s what came in the post yesterday. My favourite poem in it is ‘I crossed the Humber Bridge without paying’ by Rachel Bower

butchers dog 14 poetry mag

Another magazine I want to give a shout out to is Prole. Edited by Brett Evans and Phil Robertson, Prole has been going for some years now and they have a unique system as regards paying contributors which I admire very much. Basically, instead of offering contributors a free copy of the issue they are in, they give contributors a share in any profit an issue makes. So as a contributor you’re given a PDF of the mag, but if you want a hard copy then you buy it. Your buying it then helps grow the potential pot that ends up being shared amongst contributors. Or you can opt to let Prole keep it for their funds, but that’s entirely up to you. We’re talking a very small amount, but it’s the principle that counts. More power to Prole! I do have a couple of poems in this latest issue, which I’m very pleased about, as they were both a bit ‘out there’, and I had a feeling they might sit well in the magazine. There’s a lot of prose in Prole, if you’re interested in that too.

Prole 31 poetry mag

Another longstanding poetry magazine with great character is The Frogmore Papers. It’s packed full of poetry and is, I think, unique in publishing micro-reviews (which I really appreciate as a reader, but also contribute to occasionally). The magazine features covers by local artists and has a ‘sister’ online publication called Morphrog – can you see what they did there?

More magazines to come …

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  1. Recently discovered Butcher’s Dog loved it. Currently having urgent and invasive treatment to try and save sight in right eye. Lucky have two, so still busy making films with best of my own poems.
    Let most subs slip, at 80 time is precious, but would never give up membership to Poetry Society. Especially as comes with regular mag. Glad poetry with academia suits you

  2. Butcher’s Dog is getting v good feedback from a variety of sources. So glad you’re doing this. I’ll be interested to see how you get on with PN Review. I used to enjoy it immensely because of its international scope, but I’m struggling with it now I’ve renewed my subscription.

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Robin Houghton 2021