The Blue Nib is a print and digital platform that publishes and promotes the work of established and emerging poets and writers. It is an independent imprint that publishes exceptional poetry, essays and short literary fiction in a quarterly digital and print magazine. The Blue Nib imprint also publishes anthologized work and individual works of poetry and literary fiction. They are currently open for submissions until August 1 for their upcoming Autumn issue.
I was curious how and why this literary magazine came to be, so I asked Managing Editor Dave Kavanagh and US/Canada Poetry Editor Mike Griffith a few questions to find out. See my interview with Kavanagh and Griffith and a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about The Blue Nib.
KAVANAGH: Hi Trish, thank you for taking time to do this. The Blue Nib is primarily a platform for emerging voices in poetry and short fiction. We focus much of our attention on publishing and promoting writers who we believe deserve an audience. We look for writers and poets who take their writing seriously. To date, we’ve been lucky enough to publish a number of writers and poets who have then grown and become important voices. At the recent Hennessy Awards in Ireland, three out of six nominees in the emerging poet section were poets we had recently featured in our magazine and website.
HOPKINSON: How/why was The Blue Nib originally started?
KAVANAGH: The Blue Nib grew out of my own frustration with the chaotic world of Lit Mags. I found that there were a number of high-end magazines and sites that published only the work of known poets and writers and then there was a plethora of others that seemed to publish just about anything, regardless of quality. There were few quality magazines or webzines that offered an outlet to emerging poets with genuine talent and skill. My intention was to create a vibrant zine that would offer such a space.
We launched in 2017 and our guiding principle from the outset was to read everything submitted and publish only the best. The hand of an editor seemed absent from so many other ezines, we were determined not to take that route, but rather to ensure all the work we published was read and approved by a knowledgeable editor.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
KAVANAGH: Our audience is anyone who enjoys exceptional poetry and literary short fiction. Many magazines seem to cater very well for contributors yet do little about encouraging readership. There’s a kind of a vacuum, a line of thought that only poets read poetry. We’ve tried to break out of that; a lot of my own time is spent promoting the work of our contributors to our readership and it seems to be working. Our current online readership tops out at a little over 22,000 unique site visitors per month.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
KAVANAGH: As managing editor, I leave much of the selection of poetry and fiction to our designated section editors, all of whom are much better writers and poets than I will ever be. They are each creative people who I greatly admire.
I focus mainly on articles that will either be of use or of interest to our readers. However, I do read all submissions and I occasionally bend an editor’s ear about a particular writer or poet whose work I find exceptional. I’m drawn to unique voices, poets who know and understand the rules but still manage to break out of the mold of form, or who write in a distinct style. It is not always the most technically sound that excites me; rather it is often the raw and new. I would also like to see more young writers submit to us. Our current demographic shows less than 25% of our audience being under 35. I’d like to see that figure rise, so more young writers please.
GRIFFITH: For me, well-crafted and well-revised imagery-intense poetry which can speak to a wide readership.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
KAVANAGH: Again, I would say that I am most excited when I read something fresh. Distinctive unique voices in either poetry or fiction. We were lucky to be among the first to publish work by Anne Walsh Donnelly. When I first read her poetry, I was impressed by how brave she was. She is among a group of poets that I admire for their ability to use ordinary language in an extraordinary way. I want to see more poets and writers who are not afraid to break the rules.
GRIFFITH: The particular which can also speak to the universal sense in readers. Also, much less telling and much more showing. SHOW me that stunning sunset, don’t tell me about it; make it come through my eyes, not just yours. Tall order, I realize.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
KAVANAGH: Oh dear, that is a hard question to answer and the answer might change from month to month. However, as an Irishman, I like The Stinging Fly. I also read Skylight and I like Poethead online. I try to read as much as I can. I generally have at least one magazine, a poetry book and a novel on my nightstand and a massive TBR (to be read) stack elsewhere in my home. I buy more books and magazines than I can ever hope to read.
GRIFFITH: Southern Poetry Review, Rattle, American Poetry Review
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
KAVANAGH/GRIFFITH: We take submissions for the magazine at https://thebluenib.com/submit-poetry-fiction-reviews/
There are links to submit poetry (three different sections, USA/Canada; Australia/NZ; and UK, Ireland, and the rest of the world), short literary fiction, reviews, and essays. The Blue Nib is also open to news items from the world of writing like events, major book releases, workshops, etc.
We also publish a limited number of collections per year. Submissions to the Blue Nib Imprint are taken at https://thebluenib.com/independent-book-publishers/
The Blue Nib Chapbook Contest is also open several times a year ( https://thebluenib.com/the-blue-nib-poetry-writing-contest/ ) and our books imprint can be found at this link. ( https://thebluenib.com/independent-book-publishers/ )
There is no cost to submit to our magazine or website, but those who wish to submit must register with the website for the reasons explained on the submissions page.
Paid subscriber submission to our contests are free. Non-subscribers can purchase an entry.
There is no fee to submit to the magazine or the publishing imprint.
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
KAVANAGH: I’m always happy to talk to readers or contributor. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org Email addresses for all of our editors can be found on their profile pages or here https://thebluenib.com/the-blue-nib-editors/
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: August 1, 2019
FORMAT: digital and print
SUBMISSION FEE: None
PAYMENT: “Payment for work accepted for publication in the print magazine is calculated based on the value of the existing subscriptions on the date the issue is published. Rates are calculated in shares, with a poem earning 1 share and a short story/review/essay earning 5 shares. Share calculation for issue 39 is €370.00. Payments are made through Paypal using the email address listed on your account.”
FORMS: poetry, essays and short literary fiction