This month’s Lit Mag Spotlight is happy to be shining on a not-so-close-to-home lit mag, Popshot! Popshot Magazine, based in the UK, publishes illustrations along with poetry, short stories, and flash fiction. Read a little about their ideal submission, what turns them off, and how they’re revolutionizing the lit mag industry. Enjoy!
CONTEST: Leave a comment on this blog post by June 20 to enter to win a FREE copy of Popshot’s latest issue, The Imagination Issue. This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Shannon! Thank you to all who participated.
Give us the lowdown on your journal’s mission:
The mission has slightly evolved over the years. Popshot started life as a straight-up poetry & illustration magazine and was a bit of a revolt against other poetry magazines. After an afternoon perusing the shelves of the literary section in Borders back in 2008, it dawned upon me as to how poetry had managed to keep itself viewed as musty, elitist, and out of touch. Poetry is a beautiful and fascinating art form, but the pages of magazines didn’t make it look that way. Magazines can act as the face and the figureheads of an industry or art form, and I thought poetry’s face should be a little more enticing. In my 21-year-old naivety, I decided I could do it better, and that’s when Popshot was born. The first issue launched with a quote from Adrian Mitchell “Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people” that summed up what we were trying to do. In October of last year, the magazine stopped declaring war on poetry’s reputation and relaunched as “The Illustrated Magazine of New Writing”—growing to include short stories and flash fiction as well as poetry, all fully illustrated.
Describe your ideal submission in 15 words or less:
Something that’s thought-provoking, reads effortlessly, and has a surreal/paradoxical/unexpected twist to it. That’s as close as I can get in 15 words!
Tell us about a piece you recently published that got the staff really excited.
At the risk of sounding self-congratulatory, most of the poetry and short fiction that we published in our Imagination Issue got us really excited. If I had to pick one, I’d probably go for a flash-fiction piece called “The Light Eater” by writer Kirsty Logan. It tells the story of a daughter who starts eating lightbulbs following the death of her father. I won’t give any more away as you can read it for yourself by downloading our sample PDF of the issue. What I loved about it was its literal take on trying to find lightness within the dark that’s often left when we lose someone we love, and the bizarre lengths that we can go to in order to try to get them back despite its complete futility. The piece managed to take all of that emotion and condense it into a story of less than 350 words that is both surreal and moving at the same time. My eyes still sting when I read the last line!
Regarding submissions: What’s the most common turnoff that you encounter?
Naturally, there are exceptions to the rule, but poems about how wonderful it feels to write poems usually turn me off completely. Also, experimenting with form just for the sake of it is a big no-no. I’ve read so many submissions that would be far better if they just read seamlessly from one line to the next, rather than cutting up some beautiful prose because it looks more interesting. If a poem is a good beautiful poem, you don’t need to explode all the lines across the page to make it into something. We rarely remember a poem for what it looks like, more for what it says to us.
What’s the most common oversight (in terms of submission guidelines)?
Forgetting to pay attention to the submission guidelines! Whether people like them or not, submissions guidelines are there for a reason, and trying to revolt against them is never a good idea. For example, Popshot requests that submitters send no more than 3 pieces. We do it because we don’t have the time to read more than that from one person. So if someone sends 12, that can get our backs up!
Why is your journal awesome?
Good question, and one that might obliterate my modesty. Because it’s one of the only literary magazines in the world that is fully illustrated, using some of the best contemporary illustrators working today. Because it also publishes what we believe to be some sublime short fiction and poetry that can stimulate the hairs on the back of your neck. Because it’s a beautiful thing to hold, and because it provides a platform for some of the most exciting writing today. It also helps that our subscriptions start at £10.
Where can readers find your submission guidelines?
On our website.
Should everyone that reads this take out a subscription to Popshot Magazine?
Be sure to check out Popshot on Facebook!
Contest: Leave a comment on this blog post by June 20 to enter to win a copy of Popshot’s latest issue.
I love new magazine promotions! 🙂
I just checked out Popshot Magazine and it looks fantastic! 😀
The magazine sounds interesting. I definitely want to read more.
That cover is really eye catching. I would pick that up on sight.
I shall definitely be looking into this one. I am one of the editors of Poetry 24 so I can relate to much of this. At the same time, I am also a writer and I shall be looking to submit at some time in the future.
Poetry AND illustration? Sounds good to me!
Popshot Magazine sounds fantastic! I’ll definitely be checking it out!
This actually sounds perfect – I can’t wait to be able to read it!
I have actually been published in their “The modern Living Issue.” My poem, “How the GPS Stole My Husband was illustrated by Toby Whitebread. What a thrill! They seem to like quirky and a touch unconventional. I would love to win a copy to pass on to another writer!
A class journal!
Just caught this piece on Twitter… I like!
We were a little unsure about this at first — there seemed to be a bit of a ‘poetry is magical but no one does it right except for me because I’m so very provocatively unusual’ vibe, which very nearly all of humanity seems to think is true about themselves. However, when we saw that Popshot, too, finds it absurd that many writers think ‘well, this is basically prose, but if I can just make it LOOK like poetry then NO ONE will be able to deny how artistic and profound I am’, we realised that it must be edited by sane, even tasteful people. Additionally, the description of the short story (which did sound very intriguing) being so edgy and poignant was just starting to raise some flags until ‘My eyes still sting when I read the last line!’: proof that stories are selected based off of both their cleverness / originality and their ability to actually have an impact on a reader. It’s disappointingly rare that people are able to identify both of these key quality assessors.
We also love the fact that Popshot is a literary magazine born with a purpose, with direction. Most literary magazines were created ‘because … umm … literature …?’. Too often a literary magazine doesn’t seem to really know what it wants, and ends up throwing together a haphazard mash of assorted clichés for each issue. We applaud Popshot for gracefully skirting that issue entirely. (At least, that’s what it seems they must’ve done — none of us have ever actually gotten our hands on an issue.)
Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.
I found some well collected thoughts in your description of the Popshot magazine. It has an emotional sting to it which is very welcome in these days of dry ‘cut and paste’ writing. I look forward to reading everything that Popshot has to offer!
You’ve got my attention.
And you will get a submission one day soon too!