Monday, 1 August 2011

An open letter to readers of the popular new writing website, Silkworms Ink

RIP Lucian Freud, a man who wrote excellent letters


We were intending to post this a week or three ago, but then some Society had some sort of Meeting (or something) that got a bit shouty, so shouty that NOT A SINGLE PUNCH WAS THROWN, and so we decided to let Phil ‘EGM’s most affable bachelor’ Brown splash around the blog by himself for a while. And hasn’t he done well? Welcome, readers new; we’re thrilled Silkworms’ #PoSocEGM coverage has been useful, and look forward to showing you around the new site come the autumn (same goes for you, regulars and old hands, obviously).

The new site. More on that later. First, a bit of recent history.

Prior to THE IMPLOSION OF POETRY, we’d gone a bit quiet, having spent the preceding year and a bit spraying out shimmering new writing and incisive commentary on an almost daily basis. Friends, the flow had dwindled to a trickle. Silkworms As Was was a thrilling, if slightly chaotic place to be: a platform for a weekly mini-zine comprising of short articles about poetry, fiction, music, film and theatre, along with a chapbook of new work, a literary mixtape and a very small essay. Each riffing off an arbitrary theme (to revisit some of these, open your exercise books here). All four (then six) Silkworms editors were spending the time we had rifling through submissions, commissioning new work, and filling in the gaps with our own writing. Without giving ourselves the opportunity to ask: why? Why are we throwing all this stuff into the internet.

It took putting together chapbook L, our fiftieth, fattest, most well-connected publication yet – and being forced to slow down in order to worry about previously IGNORABLE things like subbing and COHERENT ORDERING and so forth – to make us realise…

We didn’t want to be just another blog-led website with a publication arm stuck onto it, like the poems on of our 100% cotton t-shirts. We wanted to really grab hold of and bloody utilise the new technologies and ever-expanding networks we’d taken for granted for 400 days – in a way that they hadn’t been utilised before. To help us metamorph into the first fully-realised, fully-streamlined, fully-equipped, fully-electric publishing house willing to dedicate itself to the catalysing, editing, writing, producing, displaying, reframing, curating, polishing, SWILLING AND SPITTING OUT of genuine eclectica. To help us do, in short, something different.

That was, and remains, the plan. A plan that clearly requires a great deal of time to be spent on development, commissioning, collaboration-making, path-clearing etc. in preparation for our MASSIVE RE-LAUNCH, scheduled for the end of the summer. In our first month of (relative) quiet, we’ve achieved a great deal, and designs have been refined, functionalities conceived, books written, venues booked and several other things. In our second month, we intend to finish off achieving these ends, and find at least five more ends to achieve. By the end of August, at least twelve ends will have been achieved and then, THEN we can talk. Hopefully you’ll find a place to read, to write, to talk, to listen, to reflect, to lurk, to learn, to forget, to offend, to plot…

So anyway, at this midway point between Silkworms 1.0 and Silkworms 2.0 – Silkworms 1.5, then? – we thought it would be polite to remind y’all of where we were, to let you know where we’re going, and to keep you reasonably abreast of what we’re doing at the moment. (Beyond offering indispensable resources for PoetryGate rubberneckers the world over.) So that when you have a think about who you’d like to publish your next collection of poems with; or who you’d like to propose an investigative or scholarly project to; or who you’d like to work with on your PARADIGM-REDEFINING idea for an event; or who you’d like to host the best thing you’ve ever written alongside the best thing a bunch of other people have written…

So that when you have that think, you think of us. Seriously, our future depends on the input of brilliant people – and as soon as possible, because we can’t keep rinsing the brilliant people we’ve already worked with (as brilliant as they are). So start a conversation, and let’s see where we can take it:

We look forward to talking to you all, throughout August, and then exploding from our silky chrysalis before autumn descends. Until then,

James, Phil, Jon, Sam and Rowan
Editors, Silkworms Ink

A rather less excitable reflection on Silkworms’ genesis, chapbook ‘L’ and the phenomenon we’re rather predictably calling The New Publishing can be perused in the latest issue of Arts Professional magazine, behind (alack) a paywall. We’ll liberate the article here in a few days’ time.

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