More on By Leaves We Live (with still more to come).
The conversation between Duncan Glen, editor at Akros Press (the link I had no longer works) and of the magazine Zed2O, and Gerry Cambridge, editor of The Dark Horse magazine, was packed with anecdotal humour. More than that, both poets exhibited a sense of history. They’ve seen poetic trends come and go in publishing careers that span years, and in Duncan Glen’s case, cover over five decades.
Duncan Glen began publishing in the early sixties mainly to give a higher profile to Scots poetry, both that of the ‘greats’ like Hugh McDiarmid and that of young, emerging writers. That was the primary passion that gave him a reason to push ahead. Even now in his mid-70s, he continues to publish chapbooks of writers new and old, and his annual magazine, Zed2O, concentrates mainly (but not exclusively) on innovative and experimental poetry of quality.
Gerry Cambridge had linked up with American writer and publisher, Dana Gioia, who offered to publish The Dark Horse in the USA as long as it offered more than merely Scottish interest. The Scottish/American link, the emphasis on metrical and formal poetry (again, not exclusively), and a deliberate internationalism, gives the magazine a unique flavour.
In some ways, they could be seen to come from opposite ends of the poetic spectrum. What they had in common, which seemed more significant to me, was an emphasis on quality, a passion for making good poetry available, and a drive to surprise their readers and – no doubt – themselves.