Skylight 47 began in Galway in the west of Ireland in January 2013 as a one-off production to celebrate ten years of Over The Edge open readings (http://overtheedgeliteraryevents.blogspot.ie/), held monthly in Galway City Library. Four years later we are taking submissions for Issue 8. We are still associated with Over The Edge, using the readings as our launch platform and publishing the winner of its annual competition.
The 28 pages of Skylight 47 now come out twice a year. The journal may seem short, but the format is tabloid newspaper so there is plenty of space. I was one of the three founding editors (the only one remaining) who decided this format would be fantastic if we could achieve it. Trickier than we imagined, though, as most printers demand a minimum order of one thousand copies for newsprint. We were looking for only 200. But we didn’t want to let go of this idea and eventually found Newspaper Club (newspaperclub.com), an online printer based in Glasgow whose minimum order is one. We’ve been using them ever since.
At the moment we have four editors and between us take on the various tasks involved with producing a poetry publication, including the layout and design. We all read all the submissions, and after a somewhat muddled start now have a strict numerical method for choosing poems. A fascinating process. It became clear very early on how astonishingly different our choices of poems could be – a poem adored by one editor could be dismissed out of hand by another. These differences in opinion lead to a healthy variety of poems in each issue, and show there is nothing as subjective as judging a poem.
The format is a huge part of Skylight’s appeal – the feedback we receive from both readers and contributors has made this clear. The white space is as important, visually, as the words. The poems have room to breathe, they can spread across the page when their lines are too long to be contained, concrete poems can show off their unusual shapes and prose poems can stretch as much as they need. Also, the order in which the poems are presented has more of an impact – seeing several poems together across two big pages allows the movement through various themes to shine through, and that is something we think carefully about.
A favourite feature is our poetry masterclass, a double-page spread in which a well-known poet advises on how to make an anonymous poem the best it can be. We’ve been fortunate in our masterclass poets – Miriam Gamble, Paul Maddern, American poet Drucilla Wall, Helen Mort, Luke Kennard, Kim Moore and Mary O’Donnell.
Alongside the masterclass we publish reviews, comment pieces and an interview or other piece of prose. ‘Under the Spotlight’ showcases a writing group along with examples of their poems, while artwork adds another, colourful, dimension to the newspaper.
Our present submissions window is open until 1 January 2017 – we changed to a fixed submission time earlier this year to save poets waiting months for a response. We would love to hear from poets anywhere.
Bernie Crawford, Nicki Griffin, Marie Cadden and Ruth Quinlan
With talon hands
I write your name across the sky
pluck threads from cloud formations
to weave letters
A composite of wild precipitation
and weather weak remains
I hold you suspended
an ink blot, a Rorschach test
for any who may look upon you
Curlicues and spirals that fall to wax
Hardening when gravity fails
And this is our embarrassment
Our failure to coalesce
When skin splits and blood runs
and the life we planned vanishes into dust
Liz Quirke (issue 7)
Liz Quirke lives in Spiddal, Co. Galway with her wife and daughters. Her poetry has appeared in various publications, most recently New Irish Writing in The Irish Times and The Best New British and Irish Poets 2016 by Eyewear Publishing. In 2016, she was shortlisted in the Emerging Poetry category of the 45th Hennessy Literary Awards.