Earlier this month I caught up with Brett Evans, one of the editors at Prole and asked him a few questions about the magazine and the press.
When was Prole established and when did your first magazine appear?
Prole became a twinkle in both editors’ eyes over a few pints of Guinness in The Hope and Anchor in Heaton, Bolton, in the summer of 2009. My co-editor to be, Phil Robertson, and myself felt that many literary magazines were embracing an elite while distancing themselves from the general reader (only some I hasten to add. There are many that I admire and several I subscribe to) where style seemed to dominate accessibility and quality. We felt sure there was a space in the market for a journal which offered engaging and accessible poetry and prose. By accessible, I do not in any way mean lacking in quality. We quickly decided that we wanted our little baby to be fully independent, therefore we did not seek funding and decided to dig into our own shallow pockets.
Prole’s embryonic stages of doubt lasted until a business account was set up in February 2010 and issue 1 was born, to our delight, on April 6th of that same year – fathers and child all well.
What is it you look for in poetry submissions?
The short answer to that would be – great poetry. But poems can strike in so many different ways: the poem that grabs you by the throat with its first line and drags you along breathlessly, the more subtle and reflective poem that can appeal at once or become richer with every reading, the poem that lightly amuses or results in a belly laugh, but whatever the poem’s style or content it is weight and balance that are important. Is the poet verbose in what they are saying? And that old cliché, show don’t tell, still holds true.
Prole considers all poetry, and the wider the variety an issue contains the better, but it is the execution which must wow both editors. From the start our policy was that for a piece to be featured both editors would have to believe in it 100%. Contrary to popular belief editors are only human and sometimes a piece may be rejected not because it is bad writing but simply that the editors could not agree upon it. On occasion we have worked alongside contributors to strengthen a piece until editors and author all agree that it works better than when originally submitted.
You have very clear submission guidelines on your site, when it comes to a covering letter what information do you want to see?
Just common courtesy (and submissions to the correct address – poetry or prose – saves time). We get some submissions without so much as a ‘Hello’ which I find rude but if the work speaks for itself it will be considered.
Humour is always very nice to see in a cover letter or bio – even if the submission is not successful, making us smile goes a long way. We aim to respond to submissions within 3 – 4 weeks as both editors know what it is like to have publications sit on your submissions for months on end.
I’m really interested in the Prole Laureate competition, can you tell me more about it?
The Prole Laureate competition (along with its prose equivalent, The Prolitzer Prize) is an annual comp that offers cash and publication in Prole for the winner and two runners up. Each year there is a different judge (a poet we respect) and the editors filter the entries and send a selection of anonymous poems to said judge.
Unlike a lot of journals, Prole pays its contributors a profit share four months after each respective issue. As we do not rely on, nor seek any funding, the profits from our competitions go back into ensuring the continuation of Prole.
Outside of Prole, Prolebooks have published a handful of poetry pamphlets and collections with more to come later this year and in the new year. Our journey saw us starting on a steep learning curve. While we hope always to be learning more, it has been fun – our editorials outrageous fun at times – and we are pleased to have made positive and reaffirming relationships with our contributors and others. We hope to continue making many more. Prole never sleeps just passes out on occasion.
For further information our website can be found here http://www.prolebooks.co.uk/
and Prole can be followed on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Prole/236155444300?ref=hl
and Twitter https://twitter.com/
5 thoughts on “Prole – interview with Brett Evans”
I enjoyed this interview – it leaves the reader with the impression of a friendly and approachable publication which is very refreshing. I am particularly impressed by the careful way they go about deciding on successful submissions and it’s good to hear that editors are only human 🙂 Thanks for an interesting posting.
Thank you, Abegail.
Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2013 21:08:35 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good interview which gave me the opportunity to meet Brett & Prole. I like the bit about having a sense of humour in the cover letter 🙂 Thanks.
It is always so helpful for the submitting writer to get a sense of how to best approach an editor/literary journal when it comes time to send forth the poem, story or essay. Over the years I have moved from sheer terror (resulting in stilted form letter covers) to what the hecky-fecky-doodle. This is me. But that evolution has come “over the years” and the occasional terror does still occur. Thank you for showing an openness to all initiating submissions.
Hi Sue – thanks for these comments. A