NTU BA Creative Writing student Kai Northcott discusses the exciting world of ‘little magazines’ and Snare, the one he has helped to bring to fruition, which will be launched on 26 January. There’s a sign-up link at the bottom of the post. See you there!
As part of NTU’s BA Creative Writing, us second years have been tasked with setting up our own little magazines. Before starting the module, I was almost completely unaware of their history. I had never even heard the term ‘little magazine’. Sure, I knew there were poetry magazines, fiction magazines, and all that. I kind of disregarded a lot of it as stuffy and pretentious (and sometimes it is) but what I didn’t fathom were the roots. There was a whole movement, and it was underground, and most people had no idea. That was sort of the point a lot of the time. Not only this, but they were (and are) everywhere and about everything. That doesn’t seem as profound now, in the age of the internet, but this was happening a century ago.
What struck me most deeply was that anyone could do this. All you need is a passion. To actually care. You just start and figure out the rest as you go. Often, I lack that bravery. I think we all do at some point.
Beyond continuing the tradition of literary magazines, this module has been an opportunity for my peers and me to push ourselves and gain experience in professional roles previously unfamiliar to us. We had to go from concept to finished product, learning as we went. All of this is very much in the spirit of little magazines – often started from a burning passion and, frankly, a naïve but spirited ignorance about how hard it will be. Admittedly, though, we have had a bit more support and more resources at our fingertips than the first pioneers!
I was particularly stirred by the story of Sniffin’ Glue, a fanzine celebrating the punk scene that was scrawled out in felt-tip pen. Mark Perry, its creator, didn’t care what people thought. It didn’t matter if it looked like a kid had made it. What mattered was the content. It was DIY, it was punk, and as soon as it wasn’t anymore, they ended it. Something about its authenticity resonated with me. Particularly because the modern world can often feel insincere.
Our magazine, Snare, is very much a response to the fake photoshopped world that we are faced with every day. I think we are aching for more of this small stuff. I know I am. There is a rebelliousness to it. Everyone knows things aren’t right. The world is a bit shit. We want to say something but are too scared. It feels like we are alone, and no one will understand.
Little magazines are about finding that small group of people who do. If no one will give us a place to have a voice, we will make our own. That is the chant of the little magazine. Whether it is people rallying around a rebel music scene, sharing stories, promoting poetry, we need more genuine art. Art that isn’t made solely for profit. Art that is built on community. Art that is small.
Even if little magazines only reach a tiny number of people, they provide something we are sorely missing. Connection. I am so happy to have found people who are passionate about this project – because it feels like we have created something worthwhile. It might just be small, it might even just be for us, but it feels, at the very least, authentic.
A lot of work has gone into these magazines we have produced for the module – not just my group’s Snare, but Kairos and Stem being run by Elmo Moorby and Rebecca Eaton, and I think that deserves to be recognised. These people have dared to make something. To acknowledge all that hard work, we are having a launch event on the 26th January. There will be readings from those who have contributed, alongside insights into our processes. The event is a chance to celebrate upcoming writers. It is a chance to support the literary scene. Most of all, it is chance to be part of a community.
We hope to see you there. For more details and to book tickets (for free) follow this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ntu-creative-writing-magazine-launch-tickets-223576412067