Happy new year. As this is the first issue of 2021, I feel that we should probably set out our stall once again. The best way to do this, I think, is to answer some of the questions that we get asked regularly.
What are you trying to achieve? We are encouraging people to read, look at and listen to the work of people who are not, for whatever reason, as well-known as they should be. To this end, we organise our pages so that these writers, artists and musicians share a space with people who are better known. The idea is that the presence of the latter will encourage people to check us out, and that they will then look at the other work that we feature.
Is it working? Yes. In the last six months we have built up a regular readership of which we are very proud. Our hit-rate puts us up with some of the very best magazines and we have attracted some stellar talent: people like Ali Smith, Paul Muldoon, Lydia Davis, John Burnside, Martin Parr and David Harsent; and that was only in our Christmas issue.
Why aren't you just a poetry magazine? Because being online enables us to feature all sorts of arts, including film and music. This excites me. I am mad keen on the arts – on all the arts – and I have always wanted to spread our reach as far as possible.
Is it true that you accept work that's already appeared in other magazines? Absolutely. I have to admit that I have a bit of a blind spot here. Obviously, new and previously unpublished work is preferable but why is it considered to be so preferable? Who has the time to check every other magazine? What are the chances that you will have seen that particular poem elsewhere? Small, I should think. We're happy to feature your best work, no matter where it's been.
Your guidelines. They're, um, rather simple. Why? I hate submission guidelines. Send us your best stuff. That's it. To quote our submissions page: "Just send us your best work in the format that shows it off to its best advantage. (Our one request is that, if you're a writer, you send it in Word. But even that isn't a hard and fast rule.)" Hard and fast rules and creativity don't go together very well, in our opinion.
Is it true that your editing is kind of fierce? Yes. Or it can be. We don't think of it as fierce: we think of it as thorough. Some poems are perfect as they are; others we work through very carefully indeed. If we accept you then you're going to be sharing a space with people of the calibre of Paul Muldoon, Ali Smith and David Harsent. We want you to be the very best that you can be. It's a collaborative process but it's also exacting.
Do you pay your contributors? No. This is a free, online magazine and I, myself, am not remunerated in any way. In fact, I lose money in order to keep it going. I understand if you feel that your work deserves payment, I really do, and I hope that you manage to be paid. But I have no patience with anyone who thinks that we're exploiting people. What we provide is exposure; pure and simple. A readership, and, what's more, a decent readership. If you don't think that that, in and of itself, is valuable then I'm afraid we're not for you.
What next for One Hand Clapping? Wait and see. Something. (He says, rubbing his hands together.)
I hope you enjoy this week's edition. Please do submit and spread the word. This week we are featuring Gillian Clarke; Fran Lock (and Roddy Lumsden); Katie Donovan; Misha Lazarra; Hélène Demetriades; Peter Mackay; Sharon Philips; Pratibha Castle; The Company of Cowards; Brandon Robshaw; Elisabeth Kelly; Joselito Sabogal; Jenny Robb; Mary Ford Neal; Bruce Bromley; Gale Acuff; Lucy Heuschen; Richard Manly Heiman; donnarkevic; Paul O'Prey; Daniel Cowper; Al Mcclimens; and Noah Rasheta. They all very much deserve your time and attention. Do please dig in.