Stand: poetry in plain sight

Stand: poetry in plain sight

Little known to many students, Leeds University is home to Stand Magazine, a prestigious publication on the worldwide literary scene for over half a century.

Every day students come and go, completely unaware that somewhere on campus there’s something very special indeed. Tucked away amidst the quiet comings and goings of Cavendish Road lives Stand Magazine, where people are hard at work sorting through literary contributions from all over the world. Nevertheless, In The Middle were lucky enough to secure an interview with Jon Glover (Managing Editor) and Elaine Glover (Editor).

Jon and Elaine have been part of Stand for a while now, so I begin by asking them how they got into it. Elaine paints me a vibrant picture of sixties Leeds. The union was different back then; every Friday, Jon tells me, there were students keen to sell copies of the fifty or so student-run magazines of the time. One of these young students was none other than the late Jon Silkin, sat at his stall, selling copies of Stand, which he himself founded in 1952.

This was one of the first times Jon met Jon Silkin. They got into a conversation about poetry, and from there, Jon tells me, “the dialogue never stopped”. A few years later, Elaine, too, fell in love with the magazine, and, over thirty years later, they’re still just as passionate about it. Now, Stand Magazine is among the best poetry and short fiction journals in the world.

Jon and Elaine make sure to maintain a balance between keeping in touch with the past and discovering new talent. Jon tells me about the gulf between writers and readers, and about how he wants to show people that “literature is not something dictated by godlike figures that only exists on shelves”.

I ask Jon and Elaine how they go about finding these new voices. Jon tells me that “although there are big names in Stand and it goes all over the world, it’s still something that students can contribute to, and we want them to, whether it’s their writing, poetry, or fiction, or criticism… we’re here and we want you to contribute!” For students who want to find out more, they always have an open door.

When Silkin founded Stand, he set out “to found a magazine which would ‘Stand’ against injustice and oppression, and ‘Stand’ for the role that the arts could and should play in that fight”. I asked Jon and Elaine whether they thought Stand stilled lived up to these words. “That’s a very good question”, they tell me, “that’s something we ought to talk about more and ought to do more about”. Despite this, Jon says “we like to think that the fiction, poetry, and criticism that we publish is important for and important to individual human beings… we don’t publish poetry that’s only for entertainment”. With this in mind, I ask Elaine if she still thinks poetry is the right way to deliver such a message. She answers simply, “Some people do, and that’s enough”. Jon adds, “It may well be that politics and poetry and fiction will be part of a new grassroots, maybe a quiet revolution – why not!”

When it comes to writing, Jon tells me, “it’s not shut doors, it’s not glass ceilings or concrete floors”, it’s what you can do that counts, and if you go out there with confidence in your work, there’s opportunity for you to be published and Stand against injustice and oppression.

Stand Magazine has recently launched a new website at http://www.standmagazine.org/ where you can find out more, get in contact, and buy yourself a subscription.

William Hoole

(Image: Leeds University)

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