Tuesday, 3 July 2012

On Dai Vaughan, and editing

An obituary of Dai Vaughan – author of Sister of the Artist, published by CBe in February – is in today’s Independent: see here. Another piece, mainly on Dai’s work as a film editor, here.

Meanwhile, I might warm a little – doubtful, but who knows – to Alan Sugar if just occasionally, after firing one of his would-be apprentices, he’d admit that on a different day he might have fired a different one, with just as good/bad reasons. This week I’m making the final selection of poems for the autumn Poetry Review. Wobbly heaps; return envelopes coming un-paperclipped and falling off the back of the desk. That’s the least of it.

There’s a yes pile and a no pile, and there were two maybe piles, now amalgamated into one but it still keeps changing shape and size. Poems call across to one another. One from the maybe pile veers towards the no, then suddenly switches direction and heads for the yes. They are laughing at me. The maybe pile is deeply interesting; sometimes, out of pure curiosity, I google a name I’m not familiar with and discover more.

To have the riches of the internet at my fingertips makes the messy process of hard-copy submissions (with covering letters and stamped addressed envelopes for return) seem even more antiquated than it actually is – and also, of course, raises the question of what a slim quarterly print magazine is for, what it can even begin to attempt to do. When photography arrived, some folk thought painting was dead, and they were wrong. Neither is online/print an either/or. The internet doesn’t make Poetry Review redundant; it does require it to think about its function, about what things it can do that the net can’t, and having this transitional phase of a series of guest-editors may be timely.

Dai V, incidentally, was (as well as a novelist and poet) a film editor. Among several tributes quoted in the Independent obituary, there is this: ‘No matter how hard I studied just how he had achieved such a perfectly natural flow, rhythm and emotional development in a sequence, it remained somehow beyond precise comprehension – it was always so simple, unostentatious and yet so perfect.’

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