Interview with (Elise) Lisa  Stewart

As both editor and publisher of the international poetry journal, Decanto, have you noticed that various countries have particular preferred styles of poetry?  If so, why do you think that is?  If not, why?

(Elise) Lisa Stewart: That is a very interesting and difficult question, as poetry brings up many surprises. If I had a pile of poems from around the world, I would guess some purely by their content, but there would be many that would surprise me. I have received  poems from poets who write so very English and classic poetry that I would have been certain they were English, but have been mistaken so many times.

How long have you been publishing Decanto and what motivates you to publish an international poetry journal?

(Elise) Lisa Stewart:  Decanto is now in its seventh year. When I first set up Decanto, it was with the hope of reaching poets in the local area. I had no idea that it would reach an International audience in the future.

What motivated me in the first place was the lack of outlets for non contemporary poetry. I felt very strongly that there needed to be a place for the many great poets who were being overlooked just because their work didnt fit in with the mainstream.

This is what has always inspired and motivated me. I get really annoyed at the main publishing houses who select and and dictate what the world is going to read, and I feel that there is much more scope for a wider range of poetry and writing, than the offerings the public is given. I also get very annoyed at any poetry establishment who refuses poems on the grounds of it not fitting in.

I have published some absolutely fantastic poetry, that would otherwise be overlooked. It can be very damaging for these very talented poets to be rejected  when they have so much to give the world.

From which countries do you receive the most submissions?  Why do you think you receive more from that place?

(Elise) Lisa Stewart: That is another difficult question. I really cant think.

I guess being a UK based magazine it would probably be the UK, although we do get a lot of poetry from around the world, I dont think there are many countries who havent put their poetic flag on the Decanto map, but it is more widely advertised in the UK so I think it would the UK.

Did it take a while for poets to discover your journal?

(Elise) Lisa Stewart:   We are going back some years now, but I think in the beginning, it was mainly just a few local poets, and took quite a lot of advertising to get more poets involved. The internet was by far the most productive way of reaching a wider audience. When Decanto first started it used to be about 30 pages, then increased to about 40, then 60, and now it is over 80 pages, and we produce 6 editions a year,

I rarely advertise now, apart from things like writers handbooks etc, but somehow poets just seem to find us, and I am very honoured to be able to provide a platform for so many talented writers.

How does poetry differ from any other form of writing

(Elise) Lisa Stewart: I could say that poetry is a way of bringing the subconscious and deepest emotions into the conscious; a way to express very deep feelings. That would make it easy, but on the other hand, there are writers who express just as much emotion in other writing, ie, Virginia Woolf, whos work I believe to be very poetical.

I do think however, that most other writing requires a structure of some sort, although there have been writers who have written without. Whereas, although many poets DO write with structure, there are many who dont. Therefore, poetry can be so much more spontaneous, it can go beyond the structure of language and almost resonate with an invisible cord that touches the deepest emotions within.

What do you think about 21st century poetry?

(Elise) Lisa Stewart:  I have mixed feelings and views about this. 

On the positive side, I have read some absolutely beautiful poetry and know there are many wonderful poets out there at present, and I like the freedom poetry now has. On the other hand I must admit that I feel poetry sometimes loses something special in being too accessible. I think that over in the UK people try too hard to make poetry accessible to everyone, and in doing so it becomes very banal. I also think that in watering poetry down, there is a real danger in killing the soul.

Poetry is what it is, if you love poetry thats great, if you dont you dont! You cant change poetry to suit everyone.

What is the role of the poet of the 21st century?

(Elise) Lisa Stewart: I think the changes in poetry have been very noticeable, especially over the recent years.

I believe that poetry, like most art, went through a grey period. It didnt seem to have a ground or wasnt grounded, it was metaphorically speaking, - metamorphosing.

There is, I believe, a strong connection, a vibration that appears to affect the whole balance,  which resonates through all of the arts.

I must admit I despaired at times, at the drab ugliness of the arts, how it had become almost turned inside out and laid bare, dissected too much and interfered with. It was a terrifying time. The whole poetry scene was totally dominated by contemporary poetry forms and nothing else. 

I am so relieved to see that the spark is finally returning to poetry.

I now feel that it is coming out of that static state, and the transition is really breathtaking.

What is your favourite poem, and why?

(Elise) Lisa Stewart: That is quite difficult to answer, as my tastes change, depending on what I can relate to at the time. Saying that, since I discovered Hilda Doolittle, I have been won over by her poetry, and it would probably have to be one of her poems.

At this particular time there is one that comes to mind and stays with me.



by H.D.

I should have thought
in a dream you would have brought
some lovely, perilous thing,
orchids piled in a great sheath,
as who would say (in a dream)
I send you this,
who left the blue veins
of your throat unkissed.

Why was it that your hands
(that never took mine),
your hands that I could see
drift over the orchid-heads
so carefully,
your hands, so fragile, sure to lift
so gently, the fragile flower-stuff--
ah, ah, how was it

You never sent (in a dream)
the very form, the very scent,
not heavy, not sensuous,
but perilous--perilous--
of orchids, piled in a great sheath,
and folded underneath on a bright scroll,
some word:

"Flower sent to flower;
for white hands, the lesser white,
less lovely of flower-leaf,"


"Lover to lover, no kiss,
no touch, but forever and ever this."

What can I say , its just so beautiful.


What advice do you have for young poets?

(Elise) Lisa Stewart: Write for your own pleasure foremost. I know a lot of poets who want to be famous and nothing else. The reality is that most poets do not become famous, and I think although we all seek recognition for our art, that the most important thing is to write poetry for yourself.

If you are a writer, it will always be part of you. You wont be able to stop, whether you get the recognition or not. Its like breathing, you cant exist without it.

Also, write what you want and how you want to write - dont try and fit in with what is happening in the mainstream. Stick to your own voice.

Let your own voice sing!

(Elise) Lisa Marieanne Stewart lives in Rustington,
a small village between  the Downs and sea in West Sussex, England. West Sussex boasts many connections with some of the literary greats, including Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had his first publication printed in Warwick Street, Worthing. Trelawney, who lived in Sompting,  T.S Eliot who visited Worthing and also Oscar Wilde.

She has written over 6 collections of poetry including ‘For All Eternity’, ‘Another Sentiment’, ‘The Last Lament’, and her latest publication, ‘Paradise’, which includes ‘All Longing Subsides’ and ‘Your Silent Forest.’ Paradise is available through the Masque Publishing web site. She is currently working on a new collection  due to be completed later in the year.

Her poetry has been included in many magazines and anthologies, and she recently won 3rd place in the ‘Rubies In The Darkness’ poetry competition.

To find out more about her books and Decanto poetry magazine visit: