Velour is a new magazine that will soon be hitting the streets, so editor, Gemma White and I decided to have a chat about the importance of small press publications and what you can expect from Velour. Enjoy…
Velour was previously known as Velveteen Zine. Does the name change signify a new aesthetic for the publication?
Yes. Velveteen Zine has grown up and matured into Velour. The initial zine was a bit of a trial one-off project, funded by Vibewire. I wanted to experience the processes involved in getting a poetry publication out into the world. Now that I know the basics, I am keen to establish Velour as an annual poetry magazine, a new alternative voice on the Melbourne streets, specifically aimed at providing more opportunities for new or lesser-known writers to get their poetry published, although I also consider poetry submissions from established poets.
What sparked your desire to create Velour?
Firstly, it was sparked by my ardent love of poetry, but also because I wanted to help create more opportunities for new writers to get their work published. I also simply delight in creating things and finding fantastic poetry to publish. In the first issue the focus was on creating a nurturing zine that also included articles about poetry events and poets themselves in order to create more awareness of what already existed in terms of poetry resources in Melbourne. The first zine was really designed for young people who may have an interest in writing poetry, but perhaps weren’t sure how to find out about open mic nights, and all the other amazing poetry events and workshops that happen in Melbourne all the time. However, now Velour has grown into an anthology of poems pure and simple, with more space for new writing, and just a few selected links at the back of the publication to related resources. I feel that there are probably also enough journals that are already involved in the discussion of poetry as an art form, and that concentrating on publishing high quality poems by emerging poets is a better use for the pages of Velour, and a better way for me to personally contribute something worthwhile in creating this publication. I also really wanted to move away from poetry as an academic pursuit, and allow for it to be a bit more fun and accessible within Velour. I am aiming for simplicity, the simple appreciation of carefully cultivated words on a page.
What role do you see small presses and independent magazines/journals playing in the future of poetry publishing?
I think small presses and independent magazines and journals are incredibly important. Poetry is a niche area to write in, there is a small readership (mainly other poets) and because of this most major publishers really don’t want to know about it as it doesn’t bring in the revenue of other genres of writing. So it is really up to the small presses and independent magazines and journals to encourage and sustain a plurality of poetic voices. I also believe that there really is so much high quality poetry being written that there are many writers looking for a good home for their work. This is encouraging. I don’t believe those rumours about poetry being a dying art form. I think that as long as people have thoughts and feelings to express, poetry will be a viable creative outlet.
Who are the writers that have influenced you and to what extent do they influence Velour?
Admittedly my influences are mostly shamefully mainstream – e.e.cummings to The Beat Poets to Bukowski. Out of more local and current poets, I like Geoff Lemon, Andy Jackson and Claire Gaskin. But I like a lot of poetry regardless of writing style. I look for something iridescent and shiny in the writing, something unique in the imagination of the writer, perhaps a miraculous description or a pure simplicity that comes out unscathed by the red pen, perfect in its coherent formulation. I would say that my tastes in poetry have a large influence on the kind of poetry I publish in Velour, I think it is hard for personal taste not to have some influence on an editor’s choice of poems for publication, unless a poem is so striking that anyone reading it is forced to admit its innate brilliance. That would be ideal, but realistically I think it is rare. In essence I believe all experience is quite subjective, so it follows that my editing choices would be also.
Do you see Velour as a print only magazine, or do you have plans to embrace the tides of technology?
I would one day like to embrace new technologies. It would also considerably lessen the financial cost of creating the zine and also be a more environmentally friendly option. I definitely plan to investigate e-magazine type options down the track, but my first priority is just to establish Velour as an annual physical publication. I also feel that it is slightly more satisfying for a published poet to have a real book in their hands which they can wave about and show to the world as a writing achievement rather than it just being online, which seems a lot less tangible.
Apart from following the submission guidelines, what are you wanting from poets when they submit their work? What are the things that excite you most when reading a submission?
I would like to see poets taking risks in their writing. Saying new things in new ways. Or even old things in new ways. I look for poetry with some aspect of putting a new spin on things, or taking the reader on an interesting voyage into the realms of what is possible in imagination land, which is anything really. The things that excite me most when reading a submission are delicious strings of adjectives, beautiful unexplained surrealism, and the blinding flash of something quite unknown and mysterious.
Velour Magazine has a Facebook presence – a page and a group – so check them out online.
Gemma White is a Melbourne-based poet who creates and edits Velour magazine. She has been published in Voiceworks, page seventeen and Visible Ink. She had poetry included in The Green Fuse, The Picaro Poetry Prize’s 2010 publication. Gemma also offers a poetry manuscript feedback service, which allows poets to get constructive criticism on their work at any time of year for a small fee. For more info: http://onlywordsapart.wordpress.com/