Scoring a Century.

"The hundredth edition! That makes you a Methuselah among web zines," wrote Richard Fein when I reminded him we had an anniversary coming up.

 It certainly seems quite a while since I decided to use a tiny allotment of "free" webspace for a poetry magazine. I sailed into it with very little idea of where we were going. Wayne Carvosso's credo gave us a flag to wave, but was, of course, quite impossible to live up to in the real world.

So we learnt on the job. As the man in charge, I've made a point of not straitjacketing myself with too many editorial principles beyond choosing to print the poems that appeal to me. I'm rather proud of the fact that most Snakeskin poems are rather different from the ones I write myself. We've fostered variety in every way we can. Let me point proudly to this month's issue. We feature poets from at least three continents. There are poems by Snakeskin regulars next to work by writers we've never come across before. There are young poets and older ones. There are serious poems and jokes. There are pleasant poems and uncomfortable ones. You'll find free verse next to traditional metre.

So is there such a thing as a typical Snakeskin poem? Some people think so. A journal who kindly links to us appends the description "Very British," which we don't mind at all, but it surprises us when many issues have not a stanza of UK content. Others perceive us (often gratefully) as an oasis where rhyme and metre are welcome in the otherwise unmetrical wilderness of the Internet. Fair enough, but rhymed poems actually form only a smallish proportion of the work on offer at Snakeskin.

Looking through past issues, I suppose I can see some patterns in the verse we've chosen to print. Snakeskin likes poems about human beings more than poems about landscapes, or things, or abstractions. Snakeskin likes poems that celebrate. Snakeskin likes sexy poems. Snakeskin likes jokes. Snakeskin likes poems that apply intelligence to everyday life.

Snakeskin is not keen on sermons. Snakeskin hates bossy poems. Snakeskin is wary of poems that are too fond of their own opinions about politics or God. Snakeskin doesn't much like poems that seem to have been written for the sake of writing a poem, rather than to share something (a perception, a story, a game) with the reader.

Snakeskin likes experiments. Our hypertexts and intertexts are a serious attempt to see what poems can do in an age that is moving away from paper. But we like experiments that include and/or involve the reader, not ones that exclude him/her. We're not that fond of obscurity.

Dr Johnson said that the purpose of literature was to help a man better to enjoy life or better to endure it.

We'll drink to that. Here's to the next hundred issues.


If you've any comments, George Simmers would be pleased to hear from you.