Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fire double issue

The latest issue of Jeremy Hilton's Fire has arrived: 'Nos 29/30 Special International Double Issue'. At 392 pages it weighs in with other heavy periodicals such as the annual Fulcrum. Pricing for print runs and costs of distribution no doubt push towards the annualization of magazines, but this does perhaps make the reader's life a little more difficult: 400 odd pages is a daunting bolus of work. 30 pages arriving once a month would be so much more digestible. The fattening of publications has been noted also by Alan Baker in the context of Print-On-Demand books, where minimum page count constraints are imposed. He and Laurie Duggan both comment on the increased importance of pamphlets or chapbooks serving as interim collections, on the road to the new standard fatter collections.

The new double issue of Fire contains a large and somewhat bewildering diversity of work: poems and translations by Nathaniel Tarn, translations by Christopher Middleton and Peter Robinson, a translated excerpt of Platonov, 16 Finnish poems translated by Anselm Hollo, poems in the original Chinese, Bengali and Greek with facing translations, Afghan poets, Austrian poets, Vietnamese poets, even a couple of Australians ... it doesn't make sense to try to list all the nations represented. Fire now appears annually, so I guess I've got twelve months to get through it all.