Interview with Crannóg magazine
for Dublin Book Festival
How did crannog start?
Crannóg started its life in 2002. It arose out of the Galway Writers’ Workshop which itself began in 1981.
The first issue had 16 contributors, all members past and present of the workshop, including Rita Ann Higgins, Patricia Burke Brogan, Eva Bourke, Joan McBreen. The second issue included writers who were not members, and with each subsequent issue we broadened our reach further. By issue four or five the internet was becoming more significant and we established our website. We were now visible to the world and began to get submissions from outside Ireland, from the UK, North America etc. Since then Crannóg has grown to become the established magazine it is today.
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. However as our website develops to include content that is not in the magazine we will publish additional material such as reviews and author interviews.
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 7000 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 in receipt of funding both from the Arts Council of Ireland and Galway City Arts Office 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 will continue to grow the geographic spread of the magazine. The website will continue to develop 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 and Galway City Council.
Site design: www.wordsonthestreet.com
Ireland's premier fiction and poetry magazine since 2002
Fiction and poetry