Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Journal of the day: London Ghetto Poets

November 2nd is the birthday of the BBC. First initiated in 1936, it's celebrating 75 years today. Wow.

It seems only appropriate then, that I highlight the British journal London Ghetto Poets, which featured my poem "Surprises in America" on November 19th, 2003, or almost eight years ago. This stands out as my first poem to be published internationally.

I'd come across London Ghetto Poets thanks to a tip from poet Louie Crew's website, which, in the early days, gave me many of my early leads rather than poring through The Poet's Market. Louie and I have never met face to face, but I've always appreciated his efforts to regularly help everyone to keep aware of opportunities and particularly new journals that were just starting up.

Founded by Nick Dockerty around 2002, London Ghetto Poets was a minimalist venture. In Dockerty's words, London Ghetto Poets was "Made accessible by a uniform resource locator, and usable by its current editor, the site forms part of a City - but not especially a slum area - that is populated by a select group of illuminations on a visual display unit."

Dockerty has gone on to continue writing copy for websites and other ventures. It's been a while since I've checked on where many of the other contributors have gone on to, but there were some interesting pieces featured there.

For me, "Surprises in America" was first written around the early 2000s, inspired by a column by Mike Royko who asserted that Hitler was a vegetarian, and a Soldier of Fortune wanted poster for the dictator Idi Amin, among a few other moments in my childhood.

I performed "Surprises in America" regularly across the Midwest in the 2000s, and have recorded it on Youtube twice, once in 2006 at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and once in 2008, back when it was a new thing to be uploading poetry readings there.

So, here's a glass raised to London Ghetto Poets. It may be gone, but 8 years ago it made a big difference in my career as a poet and my sense of what was possible.

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