Each month we look at some of the literary publications, zines and websites in the island of Ireland. This month we look at poetry and fiction journal The Rose Magazine.
What was the initial impetus in setting up The Rose Magazine?
If we are being honest, The Rose Magazine began as an outlet for us, the editors. It was a project that allowed us be a part of the creative world in a way that our day jobs and day to day lives don’t always do. Our hope was that through the magazine we would meet more people interested in writing, language and art. We were talking about how Dickens wrote in instalments and how the reader must have felt, waiting for the next edition to arrive. We thought that it would be exciting to start our own magazine and hopefully our readers are looking forward to the latest edition of The Rose Magazine.
You focus on new writing from Ireland, but also from around the world. Has it been a challenge to attract international submissions, and how have you spread the world beyond Ireland?
When we set out the goals of our magazine and what could make it a bit different to others, we chose to concentrate on attracting new Irish writers. We focused our website and magazine on homegrown talent as a priority with international submissions being a bonus. Although we do get a fair amount of international submissions, mainly from the UK and USA, we haven’t done anything to promote the magazine outside of Ireland.
How have you found integrating The Rose Magazine into the larger literary scene of Limerick?
This is something we need and want to do more of. We exist in the online world and we would love a greater feeling of place in the Rose Magazine and to improve our local connections. We try to attend and promote local literary events and connect with local writers on Twitter. Generally, people usually find us; we haven’t done too much in the way of promotion and we let the magazine speak for itself.
In your submission guidelines, you mention that if a piece of writing “is focused on Irish themes, we will look upon it favourably”. What do you mean by ‘Irish themes’ – Irish politics, history, geography, mythology, etc. or something more undefinable?
We mean anything that is part of Irish life. This can range from mythology through to modern day issues such as the eighth amendment. In our published editions we have featured works about funerals, Catholic guilt, growing up in Ireland, suicide, and minor hurling. We will consider anything outside of the Irish theme parameters too. Our bottom line is if it good, memorable and thought provoking, we will publish it; but our primary focus remains on finding new Irish writers and showing off new Irish fiction, poetry and art.
You offer your publication in a range of different formats to download and read. Do you find your readers appreciate the variety, and what difference does it make to the enjoyment of reading TRM?
Although we do get some readers choosing to view individual works on our website, most people download our magazine as a pdf or ebook. We wanted to include the choice just in case people felt more comfortable with a certain format. We also included individual webpages for each work so that contributors could share them easily with their readers and include their work in CVs or portfolios. The whole point of the magazine is to act as a showcase for writers and artists, so we have tried to include as many formats as possible to help reach as many readers as possible. The overall presentation of the magazine is very important to us. We want the layout to be crisp, clean and modern.
Your use of full page artwork is very striking as one scans through each issue. Is there any correlation between the position of each piece and the text that comes before/after? Are you looking for pieces that speak to each other in any way?
Thank you. We believe the artwork really impacts the overall look of the magazine. Yes, we do usually try to pair the artwork with one of the works that is featured before or after it. This isn’t always an exact science though, as we pick the artwork as they are submitted to us – if we like it, we will use it in the magazine whether it suits a particular theme or not. It’s surprising how often it works out for us, sometimes it seems that an image just feels right next to a certain story or poem.
We asked this of Cold Coffee Stand, and it’s relevant also to TRM – there’s no mention of yourselves on your site – no names of editors, photos, biogs, links to your own twitter accounts or blogs. Is anonymity a conscious approach or merely a byproduct of editing a journal like TRM?
Our anonymity is a conscious approach. We never wanted the magazine to be about us. We tried featuring an editorial in the first two editions but it felt a bit forced and we liked the flow of the magazine better without them. We prefer that the magazine consists of just the featured works and the biographies of the authors and artists. Our editorial influence and by extension our personalities can be seen through the works we choose to feature and the composition of the magazine but we want the focus to remain on the authors and artists. Away from the magazine neither of us are very active on social media, but the editors do have names; Daniel Martin and Lisa Egan, and we love editing The Rose Magazine.