Interview with Crannóg magazine for Dublin Book Festival
How did crannog start/ why did you start it?
Crannóg started in 2002 in Dec of that year. So we’re 14 years old next month. It arose out of the G W W which is a writers group that meets every Saturday in Galway.
All four editors are members of the workshop. We had been talking for some time about starting a magazine. Many writers groups publish an anthology of their work. We wanted to publish a magazine that would initially feature our own work but that would develop to include others. The first issue had 16 contributors all members past and present of the workshop. The second issue broadened out to include some other writers who were not members and at each issue we broadened our reach further. By issue four or five we had set up a website and that gave us a window to the world. We were now visible to the world and began to get submissions from outside Ireland, from NA, the UK etc.
What kind of submissions do you want?
Billy Collins said that when he starts to write a poem he assumes the indifference of the reader. The point where reader and writer meet is in a common interest in poetry/fiction. We look for writing that is well structured with an original voice and well developed characterisation. We think a fine balance between style, character, and plot is important. In poetry we look for some awareness of form however loose, structure and strong fresh imagery. We are experimental to the degree that we like deviations from tradition but not total tangents. We like writing that is aware of its ancestry while being contemporary.
Why do fiction and poetry only?
We decided from the start not to do reviews but to concentrate on fiction and poetry. As we develop our website to include content that is not in the magazine we may do reviews. We already are planning a series of author interviews starting with Donal Ryan which should be online soon.
What are the challenges of running a magazine?
It is easy to start a magazine and easy to end a magazine. The hard part is in between, in keeping it going. Marketing and distribution are particular problems for a small magazine. The internet has made this somewhat easier and we send out a newsletter to almost 4000 contacts a few times a year. Social media is also very useful of late. For distribution nationally and internationally we rely on the postal service which in Ireland is excellent. Finance is always a problem but we are now in receipt of Arts Council funding which takes a lot of the financial pressure off us.
Print v Online?
Writers still prefer to appear in print. From an editor’s point of view there is more of a commitment in print in that it all has to be nailed down well in advance. With online, editing and proofing can be done on the hoof. Of course online is more nimble and can respond quickly. That’s why we intend to add content to our website that is not in the magazine.
What is your outlook for the future?
We intend to grow the geographic spread of the magazine. We also intend to develop our website as an adjunct to the print magazine and add some extra content such as author interviews , reviews, writer resources and a why we chose it section.
What is the state of poetry/ writing in Ireland?
It is in rude health. More people are writing and publishing than ever. Magazines are not short of submissions. The more people who write and attend writers groups the higher the standard becomes so that the few excellent writers continue to improve and produce even more excellent work.
What about those covers?
One of our editors, Sandra Bunting who now lives in Montreal is a visual artist and has a network of artist contacts whom she gets the cover images from. The cover images tend to suggest the tone of the magazine which is a great help to the bookshop browser. The browser is not surprised by the content.
Crannóg acknowledges the assistance of:
Arts Council of Ireland, Galway City Council,The Galway Language Centre, Mill Street Study Centre
Site design: www.wordsonthestreet.com
Ireland's premier fiction and poetry magazine since 2002
Fiction and poetry