The Broken Spine is a new “poetry and arts collective proudly published on the coastal edge of North-West England. Founded in 2019 by Alan Parry and Paul Robert Mullen – two school friends reunited after twenty years through a mutual love of poetry.”
I wanted to know more about what this new lit mag is up to, so I asked co-founder Paul Robert Mullen some questions to find out. See my interview with Mullen and a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about The Broken Spine.
MULLEN: The Broken Spine Artist Collective was an idea born out of an unexpected reunion of myself (Paul Robert Mullen) and an old school friend, Alan Parry. We had somehow reconnected through Twitter’s #writingcommunity, in which we had both become quite prominent figures, particularly in poetry circles. We started to communicate about our own poems, submissions to magazines, trends in the scene etc, and it just seemed the logical progression to create our own journal.
HOPKINSON: How/why was The Broken Spine originally started?
MULLEN: We came up with the name after Alan spotted that I claimed to like books with “broken spines” on my Twitter profile. Me met in a local pub, probably for the first time in 20 years, and discussed the project in depth. Since then we have worked very hard to create a website, social media handles, and get the brand off the ground.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
MULLEN: The Broken Spine Artist Collective is looking to appeal to anybody who has an interest in poetry, photography, or writing from the indie and broader communities. We will feature a youth poet in each edition (under 19), and are therefore committed to artists of all ages and from all backgrounds, ethnicities, or minority groups.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
MULLEN: We are exclusively interested in poetry and photography that is striking and provocative. Alan and I are particularly interested in work that creates or reflects a sense of place, especially with a northern English theme. This is not our only interest; we like industrial, bleak, street life photography, and any poetry that is narrative in form and has something to say.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
MULLEN: Minimalist, show-not-tell, profound, provocative, edgy poems with distinct voices. Photos that knock us off our feet with one glance.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
MULLEN: There are some wonderful traditional magazines such as Ambit, Acumen and The New Yorker, that publish exceptional work. Other magazines that we really dig include Black Bough Poetry, Ghost City Press, Burning House Press, Heron Clan, Barren Magazine, Streetcake, Vamp Cat, Selcouth Station and The Interpreter’s House. Paul also has a chapbook out in June 2020 with Animal Heart Press, who are wonderful to work with.
HOPKINSON: What is your favorite part of being on staff with The Broken Spine?
MULLEN: There are only two of us, and we have a very similar outlook and taste in poetry. We have control of the destiny of the magazine, and will keep our ethos simple. It’s just great to experience the other side of the submission process for a change!
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
MULLEN: Firstly I’d encourage anyone interested in submitting to visit www.thebrokenspine.co.uk because we do have quite specific submission guidelines, and won’t read submissions that don’t comply. Once you are familiar with exactly what we are looking for you can send your poetry/photographs to firstname.lastname@example.org for our perusal!
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
MULLEN: By all means add our Twitter handles:
We will respond to queries through Twitter private messages, but please don’t send queries to our submissions inbox.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Oct. 31, 2019
SUBMISSION FEE: None
FORMS: poetry and photography