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:
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 it’s 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 didn’t 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
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 can’t 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
don’t think there
are many countries who haven’t
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
(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
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.
(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, who’s 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 don’t.
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 that’s great, if you don’t you don’t! You can’t 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 didn’t seem to have a ground or wasn’t 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.
(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.
What can I say , it’s
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 won’t be able to stop, whether you get the recognition or not. It’s like breathing, you can’t exist without it.
Also, write what you want and how you want to write - don’t try and fit in with what is happening in the mainstream. Stick to your own voice.
Let your own voice sing!