‘PENning Heroes and Heroines’
Welcome to the second issue of New Writing, PENning Heroes and Heroines. We thought that from now on we'd give a brief editorial report on the submissions and the thinking behind our final selection.
Editing this new magazine has been a most interesting and enjoyable learning process. If anyone were to ask us what we are looking for - aside from general competence and relevance to the theme - we would have to answer that we don't know until we see it. A great part of the interest is seeing what our chosen theme turns up. This batch produced plenty of heroes, but not so many heroines - where specific people were named the ratio was fourteen heroes to six heroines. In the final selection the balance has been largely redressed - nine heroes to six heroines.
We aim too at a balance between poetry and prose, and a variety of tone and approach. The magazine's distinctive feature is to display the work of refugees and asylum seekers who may not in all cases be professional writers or indeed writers at all - this is an opportunity for their voices to be heard, urgent voices from experiences we can only guess at. That is why we give priority to their work.
Although we are primarily interested in imaginative responses to the subject, we are open to other kinds of work. It's been pointed out to us that the 300 word limit is unfair to prose writers when poets get fifty lines - a good deal more than 300 words, though it must be said few poets write at anything like this length. We don't think we can cope with long prose submissions on a regular basis (though we might have an issue featuring only short stories) but we have agreed to extend the limit for prose pieces to 750 words as an absolute maximum.
For this issue we are privileged to be able to feature work from members of the Kenyan PEN centre, thanks to the contacts Linda Cracknell made on her visit there and we particularly welcome the President of Kenyan PEN, Philo Ikonya, to our featured writers page..
We hope you enjoy reading our selection as much as we have and will consider sending in submissions for our next issue, due out at the end of January. The theme is PENning the Warming World and the deadline is 10 January 2010.
Ak Welsapar was born in 1956 in the former Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan. After six years of membership, he was excluded from the Soviet Writers’ Association following his publication of investigative articles about major ecological problems in Turkmenistan. He left his home country in 1993 and now lives in Sweden, where he is a member of the Swedish Writers’ Association. He has also been an honorary member of the International PEN-Club since 1993. He has published 19 books and received many national and international awards. He writes in Russian, Turkmen and Swedish. His works have been published in a number of languages including Turkmen, Russian, Ukrainian, English, French, Swedish, Spanish, Turkish, Mongolian and a few languages from the former USSR. He was invited to represent Turkmenistan in the Poetry Parnassus event held at the South Bank in London this summer as part of the Cultural Olympiad and the poem we reproduce is the one he read on that occasion.