EDITORIAL Gwen DaviesNWR Issue 107
This edition, bound in the defunct 48,100 Zimbabwe Trillion dollar note, takes the theme of riches and poverty. Ben Skelton writes on poets’ response (or lack of it) to the global financial crisis and notes the denial of David Constantine, co-editor of Modern Poetry in Translation, that it should be a compelling theme for poets. Skelton goes on to develop ideas raised in John Redmond’s Poetry & Privacy about the cache placed on poets’ relation to the public sphere, especially so-called ‘big’ themes like climate change or economic collapse. Columnist and acclaimed nature writer Susan Richardson picks up this theme when, seeking riches on a Pembrokeshire beach, she is reminded that in the last forty years, the world has lost over 50% of its vertebrate wildlife. She ponders how to deal with such abstracted loss in her writing: ‘I’ve revisited Deep Ecologist Joanna Macy’s work on transforming denial, grief and despair into social and environmental activism. I’ve veered between an evangelical belief in the potential of poetry to make a difference, to inspire shifts in perception and create new patterns of thought and experience, and the fear that it changes nothing.’
In our fiction section, meanwhile, the protagonist of Jayne Joso’s novel extract, ‘My Falling Down House’, is a Tokyo worker who loses his girlfriend, his home, his job and his cello in one week, finding his world reduced to a single box: ‘A man, when he falls, first becomes a box man, and next, a sticky ball of rice. It’s not a good way for things to go.... There had been an economic downturn, a crisis, and like many, I was surplus to requirements.’
Tightening budgets are also on our minds here. We are very pleased that the Welsh Books Council have extended their core support for us for a further four years. However, coming on top of years of standstill and reducing grants and the threats to subscription (and indeed bookshop) models posed by new digital reading and writing habits, WBC’s cut, of £8000 to our previous grant, has made sustaining a print quarterly impossible. While we had expected, due to the WBC’s response to the Bianchi report, a cut of around £3000, surprise mid-year cuts by the Welsh Assembly Government in 2014 and a rather arbitrary funding threshold of £52,000, thrown up by European legislation on De Minimis state aid rules for journalism, lead to us losing £8000 from our forecast budgets.
In preparing for this era of limited income, our subscribers must take some practical steps. You really must, from 25 May, both access the subscriber-exclusive content on our website and, ideally, upgrade your subscription to access the digital version or you will lose out on half our reviews and all subscriber-exclusive reviews from this summer onwards. This is because the formats and titles that we will produce, from 25 May, the next issue, will be as follows:
• Three issues of creative content, including literary essays and poetry but no reviews, appearing in print, app and epub versions, as currently, and published on 25 May, 1 September and 1 December (no print edition in spring 2016 and henceforth). These will be repackaged as the NEW WELSH Reader.
• Four long, curated, high quality online supplements of reviews and comment, exclusive to subscribers, appearing 1 July, 1 October, 1 February and 1 April, commencing in July this year. These will be presented as the NEW WELSH Review.
• Four short supplements of reviews and multimedia content, available to all, but promoted by our e-newsletter to subscribers and sign- ups. These will appear 1 August, 1 November, 1 March and 1 May. These supplements will also come under the NEW WELSH Review umbrella.
• An epub book under our new brand, the NEW WELSH Rarebyte, comprising the NEW WELSH Writing Awards (announced last week), published this autumn.
• Across the year, these changes represent twelve annual publication dates, an increase of eight, and we do hope you’ll appreciate these more frequent touch-points where previously you had to wait three months between four editions. Of course a lot of debate and chat about Wales’ book scene has now moved to the social media, especially Twitter, and our presence there will remain as a positive growing voice for authors.
• It is imperative, in order to access the new exclusive online reviews, that subscribers contact firstname.lastname@example.org
if they can’t find their code, although it is printed on all subscriber correspondence. It is also recommended that they upgrade their print subscription to include digital access, a simple procedure, also accessible via email@example.com
in order to enjoy free back issues including bonus content, and digitally enriched content such as links to online bookstores and author websites.
On broader themes away from budgets, within this issue, Jo Mazelis writes for the first time, in a feature-length memoir, about her close shave with a local paedophile in her hometown of Swansea, and how social propriety may put a child at risk. Essayist Chris Moss Chris Moss visits 40 years after Chatwin’s voyage to Patagonia & 150 since the colony’s founding. Tristan Hughes’ story, ‘An Elephant in Aberaeron’, is about the grief of Queen Victoria and how some things travel better than others.
previous editorial: Sea Dogs and Profs Take a Wiggly Walk to the Bank
next editorial: Climbing the Fish Ladder