In The New Yorker a few years ago, Stephanie Burt asked the question “Why on Earth would you start a literary magazine?” She went on to point out that you won’t get rich, famous, or have time for your own writing. You’ll end up spending all your energy, or paying for someone else’s time, on page layouts, website coding, digital upkeep, marketing and bookkeeping – why would you do such a thing?
Having now created our first two issues (one being a Launch issue) I suggested to my co-founder, Steven John, that we sit down and put into words exactly why we started The Phare Lit Mag. I know I had always wanted to run a magazine and until I started my creative writing journey at the University of Gloucestershire, which is where I met Steve – my sights had been set on creating something like Folk Magazine: landscapes, small towns, slow slow living, stories and the little things in life.
I was drawn to the idea of travelling across Europe; uncovering hidden ways of life, dying out crafts and ancient traditions and reporting on them. I even started a first draft but for some reason it never really quite took off. And then, as a mature student, I took my Creative Writing degree and loved every minute of it - so much so that I took an M.A. and have just enrolled in a Creative Writing PhD.
Why have I loved it so much? Probably the same reason that I started The Phare with Steve and ditched the idea of walking down the similar road to Folk. Yes, I love to curl up and read magazines about hand dying organic eggs for Easter, or the life of the last traditional clog maker in England, or the ancient tradition of Fair Isle knitting from the tiny jewel in the ocean which lies midway between Orkney and the Shetland Islands. These are real places, real people, real lives. But it’s the magic that happens when you read a short story, a poem or a piece of flash fiction that really connects with you that interests me.
A literary magazine can take you anywhere. Made up characters that seem to feel the way you do, evoke emotions written on the page that were bubbling under your surface – love, hate, anxiety, grief, every day turmoil that we all face but don’t put into words – humanity. And when you find someone who pulls those feelings from you, it’s magical. That’s why I started The Phare. I know why Steve started the magazine, but I’m going to let him tell you via an interview which we’ll upload as a blog later this month.
Of course, to be able to keep bringing this magic to you, we need to earn a penny or two. Stephanie Burt was quite correct. We do spend time and money creating the website, writing the code and dallying with the digital upkeep which is why for this issue we’ve added in a tip jar. No-one is obliged to pay to submit a piece of work and it certainly won’t be held against you if you decide not to. But if you do drop a few coppers in the jar to help The Phare keep shining its light on magical writing, we’ll be over the moon.