This Lost Shark recently caught up with Miel editor, Mel Dixon. Miel is currently on the lookout for your art and poetry and Mel is also one of the feature poets at Brisbane’s longest running poetry event, SpeedPoets on Sunday March 1 at The Alibi Room (full details below).
In this interview Mel tells all about the evolution of Miel and the joys and challenges of editing an independent literary/art journal…
You are currently seeking submissions for the fourth issue of Miel. Tell us a little bit about the magazine, its history and what made you take the leap into the crazy world of independent publishing?
Miel was, from the beginning, developed to extend the publication of poetry beyond the establishment. In some ways it was a revolt from a poetic and literary society that I felt only saw the beauty in poets already established. I had for many years written poetry, and although not formally educated in poetics, developed and learnt my own style of, and appreciation of, poetry. I felt as if I was not taken seriously, and it is most likely that I wasn’t among the poetic elite. I felt that if I couldn’t beat the establishment, then I may as well join them.
The first issue of Miel was launched at the 2005 Queensland Poetry Festival. One of the biggest highlights of my poetic life was being approached by extraordinary Australian poet Anthony Lawrence after the presentation. He congratulated me and handed me an unpublished poem to include in the next issue of Miel. I knew that from that point on I had to continue publishing Miel. That poem mocked me from the wall behind my computer for many months, many times I wondered if I would ever be able to surround that poem by enough of the same calibre work to do it any justice. It took 7 months.
Over time, Miel has developed a small voice of beauty, filled with glimpses into the emotive world that appears every time you turn a page.
Miel currently exists as a print journal and an online journal. Why both?
I love the printed word, the sensation of holding a book, that tactile experience is unique, it creates emotional ownership, it travels through time, it can be left, lost and found, for those reasons I doubt I would ever stop publishing a print journal.
I have begun publishing Miel as an online journal for a few reasons: convenience, accessibility and flexibility. The ability of the online journal to reach readers further afield not only increases exposure of the contents of Miel, but also the exposure of those wishing to submit work.
As an editor, what are you looking for… what is it that makes a poem really sing?
I am drawn to simple, meaningful, descriptive pieces. Less is more to me. Sometimes I will read a poem once, and know that I will include it, yet other pieces I will need to re-read many times to connect with. A strong emotive voice is deeply important to me.
You are currently living in rural Queensland but have recently spent time living in the UK. How does the attitude toward poetry differ between the two countries and how did your overseas experience impact on your own attitude to poetry?
The attitude towards poetry in the UK is much more varied than I have experienced here in Australia. Poetic forms are more differentiated, and poetry is seen as a respective art form by most in society. From what I experienced this comes from both the UK’s grand history in poetics, but also it’s rich music culture – poetry and music are almost inseparable. To be a poet, or to admit to being a poet is respected, regardless of what you create.
Living in the UK taught me to savour my time, give my work more respect and not trust my ‘first thought, best thought’ on a constant basis, a process I have struggled with since I started writing. My appreciation for different forms of poetry and spoken word has also developed, I find myself absorbing more from poetic works that I had previously overlooked.
I have recently had the pleasure of interviewing a number of editors and it seems that time and energy are the greatest hurdles to jump when it comes to putting together a magazine or finding time to write. What keeps your fire burning?
Opening up the first copy of a newly completed Miel and flipping through it’s pages, seeing and feeling each poem, that is what keeps my fire burning. I find it difficult to keep up with submissions when I’m traveling, so I usually need to settle into one place to give myself time to get into submissions and see the magazine come together.
There is a time, in the selection process of each issue where I will receive a submission that stands out and frames the next publication, I usually use that piece to build the issue, brick by brick until each poem is like walking into a separate room of a familiar house.
Find out More:
carry a new year
along the seashore
in the hollow
of the headland
doubt is inflicted
© mel dixon
The mighty SpeedPoets returns from its summer break, hungry for your words. Be there when Brisbane’s longest running poetry event, rolls back into The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St, New Farm from 2pm, with poetry features from Jef Caruss and Mel Dixon. There will also be live sounds from Q-Song Awards nominees, Peter Green and the Midnight Prophets, whose blend of blues, jazz and European Gypsy is not to be missed. There will also be free zines, giveaways, the hottest Open Mic section in the city backed by our own poetic interpreter Sheish Money. Entry is a gold coin donation. See you there!
SpeedPoets: Sunday March 1, 2pm – 5pm @ The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St. New Farm.