I have been editing Shearsman and Shearsman Books since 1981. Apart from Shearsman, I have edited the anthology A State of Independence for Stride, and Roy Fisher's Interviews Though Time (Shearsman Books, 2000). I was also co-editor of the poetry selection in Chicago Review's special double issue New Writing in German (published in the summer of 2002), and have been an occasional translator of contemporary German poets — although I have not done this seriously for a few years now. Giramondo Publishing, Sydney, published a collection of my translations of Lutz Seiler in May 2005 as In the year one—Selected Poems (copies of which may be ordered in the UK from Shearsman Books). I was interviewed in January 2006 by Tim Allen for The Argotist, so go here if you'd like to learn more than is shown on this page.
Born in England in 1951, I studied Art History at the University of Essex but continued to follow an interest in poetry while a student. I gave up writing poetry in the early 1970s after it became obvious that I had nothing to say that had not been said better a thousand times before by far more competent writers. From 1974 I followed an international business career that was to continue until 1999, but also revived my interest in poetry during that time, becoming co-editor of the Hong Kong-based little-magazine Imprint in 1979. This magazine, co-edited with Terry Boyce and Hélène Li, published four issues before folding in 1981. Shearsman was then founded as a solo venture, starting with the unused manuscripts left over from the Imprint project, with everything being typed on an IBM Selectric typewriter and printed on a Gestetner machine. The magazine was in a vertical A4 format and, at its largest, ran to 100 pages. For a list of all writers published by Shearsman in its first series, please click here. In its early days Shearsman also benefitted from the assistance of three contributing editors: Carol Bergé in New York, Michael Bullock in Vancouver, and John Levy in Tucson. Sadly, only John Levy is still with us.
That first series of Shearsman consisted of six journal issues (the contents of which are now available in digitised form at the UK's Poetry Library magazine website, where copyright permits), and two issues which were chapbook collections (issue 4: Martin Anderson, Philip Crick, Gustaf Sobin & Nathaniel Tarn; issue 8: two by David Jaffin), and was edited—with some difficulty—from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I was then working. A move from Malaysia to the Middle East then rendered further publication impossible, leading to the magazine ceasing publication after the eighth issue and being merged into a new London-based venture called Ninth Decade (subsequently Tenth Decade). Ninth Decade was co-edited with Robert Vas Dias, previously editor of Atlantic Review and Permanent Press, and the late Ian Robinson, editor of Oasis and Oasis Books, both of whom had also reached a point in the development of their respective journals that rendered continued publication difficult. Ninth (later Tenth) Decade continued until 1991 and then folded, after having published fourteen issues. For a list of all writers published by Ninth Decade & Tenth Decade, please click here.
In 1991, Oasis and Shearsman were revived by Ian Robinson and myself, respectively, and in similar A5 formats. Shearsman's format was in fact copied from the successful one initiated by Oasis, with size driven by the weight for postage—as usual, a significant cost factor for a little magazine. Production by now was being achieved through computer-based DTP. From 1991 to 2005 Shearsman published 62 issues in a resolutely minimalist, low-cost format. A list of all the writers who appeared in the first 50 issues of this second series of the magazine may be had by clicking here. The first ten issues of this new series of the magazine are also available in digitised form at the UK Poetry Library, and recent issues may be seen elsewhere on this site. With effect from the double issue 63/64 (Summer 2005), the magazine changed to a book-sized format, running up to 108 pages in length, and appearing twice yearly in April and October. Some (but not all) of the contents of these book-length issues also appears on this website.
In terms of the magazine's position with regard to contemporary poetry, there is a clear inclination towards the more exploratory end of the current spectrum. Notwithstanding this, however, quality work of a more conservative kind will always be considered seriously, provided that the work is well-written. What I do not like at all is sloppy writing of any kind; I always look for some rigour in the work, although I will be more forgiving of failure in this regard if the writer is trying to push out the boundaries. I tend to like mixing work from both ends of the spectrum in the magazine, and firmly believe that good writing can, and should, cohabit with other forms of good writing, regardless of the aesthetic that drives it.