New Trad

The first volume of poetry journal New Trad has been published. New Trad originates in an idea I’ve had for a few years now: a home for contemporary poems that are written in archaic forms. The first issue features original poems with a diverse array of influences—Sapphic lyric, Dante’s terza rima, mediaeval alliterative verse, carmina figurata, the sonnet, Yu Xuanji’s classical poetry, liturgical music, Pindaric ode, the glyconic, the English ballad, the rubaiyat, the rondolet, and skaldic poetry.

The longest work in there is a previously unpublished extract from Bev Braune‘s wonderful epic poem ‘Skulváði Úlfr’. It was coming across another excerpt, published in Cordite, that convinced me to move forward with New Trad and make it happen.

There are two samples from issue one available online: ‘The Man from Ithaca’ by Charlotte Innes, and ‘Our Colossus’ by Tegan Jane Schetrumpf. They’re both excellent pieces and should give a flavour of what to expect from issue one, which is available to purchase from various retailers, including the big ones.

My involvement with the issue was as editor, rather than writer; but I did write the series introduction, ‘A Roll of the Dice’, which can also be read on the website:

The predicament of contemporary poetry, as described at the outset, is its rampaging self-cannibalisation, its impatience with metrical form and structure, its destruction of the ground on which poetry has traditionally stood. How can today’s poets renew poetry, when the last century has been a blur of novelty-seeking? The conviction of New Trad—and it is, I will freely admit, more of an intuition than a fully conceived hypothesis—is that the future will only be won by reference to the past…

Our emphasis is not on the recent pre-modernist past. There are several venues already in existence for the rhyming, metrical poetry that immediately preceded the onslaught of free verse and has been maintained by the likes of Robert Frost; we have no desire to replicate them. Rather, we seek to revitalise ancient forms and traditions so long fallen out of use as to have become mere objects of scholarly study. What if we still wrote like the ancient Norse skalds? What if we had never stopped writing spells and invocations in the manner of the Akkadians? What if the Sapphic lyric or Horatian ode were still with us…what would they have become, for us—what can we make of it in our own era?

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