Judging by the rather dispiriting conversation between yours truly and Mascara Literary Review this morning, it would appear the mag is struggling badly. Michelle Cahill, to her credit, believes strongly that poets should be paid for their work, but do poets themselves really expect this? Surely in the interests of keeping such a quality publication afloat we could waive any fees? If readers feel like helping out, they can visit the Mascara Literary Review site and subscribe. 

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Great question. A few thoughts:

Payment is always nice. Payment is one kind of acknowledgement of the worth of the work, and the writer's time therein embodied.  

Also when a poet is starting out receiving that first contributors fee for a published poem is a great moment.

On the other hand, few would count on payment from journals to fund their weekly shop or rent. Which is to say very many of us already do manage to live without payment for our poems.  

My own preference is for a diverse poetry ecosystem over a small cheque.

Or is it? Being honest – one aspect of deciding where to send my poems is if there's a payment, the one I just said I didn't need. Other things I consider are, before the money, do I read and enjoy the journal, is it well designed, do they have a good reputation, and are they doing a good job with their website (I'm a digital strategist in my day job). But those things being equal between two journals, then the money comes into it.

What do others think?

I just recently published a review of Mascara 10 by Stephen Lawrence on Rochford Street Review. When he wrote he review Stephen was not aware of the problems facing Mascara - however Adama Aitken has since filled us in. There appears to be a chance that Deakin Uni can help out. And yes subscribe, subscribe, subscribe! Of course poets and writers in general should be paid - but the reality is that the only mags that can afford to pay are the subsidised ones....and once the funding dries up so does the payment to poets. Not sure how this will play out - but good luck to Mascara and good luck to the poets who need the money!


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