Some of you may remember my recent post on anonymous reviews. Well, here’s the second controversial topic from the editorial of Gutter magazine (I’m saving the third topic for the Magma blog sometime over the next few weeks, as it seems more relevant for there).
The editorial says:
“We thank those who sent us work, and we reassure you that all pieces were assessed ‘blind’. We aren’t interested in encouraging literary cliques.”
Anonymous submission, then. The upside of that is made clear in the editorial. No favouritism. It’s about good poems, not names. The downside is that the very big names an ambitious magazine might hope to attract may not submit because of the anonymous submission element.
Gutter took a poem by me for their first issue, so I’ve no personal grievance with the process. Anonymous submission sounds like a great idea. Surely it means readers will get to read the best poems, not just those submitted by known names, but magazines like Anon and New Writing Scotland, while high quality publications, don’t seem inherently better (or worse) than other magazines to me. I suspect they would publish pretty much the same pieces even if the submissions had names attached. But might they get more submissions from the top writers?
Also, isn’t a better way of keeping literary cliques at bay simply to accept the best work and turn down work from friends that’s substandard? What, exactly, is wrong with literary cliques anyway? What might seem like a clique to one person will be seen as an exciting movement by another. Magazines often spearhead new shifts and movements. If what they spearhead is genuinely fresh and exciting, so much the better, but it’s harder to do with an anonymous submission procedure. If some people feel excluded from the ‘clique’, well, they can always start a new magazine for what they feel is vital.
Interesting times though – three important Scottish-based print magazines (those named above) use anonymous submission procedures. Most UK print magazines don’t. That’s intriguing in itself that Scottish magazines sense a need for anonymity.