Is there a connection between the poetry and the artwork/photography selected for inclusion in the journal?
We’re open submission (though sometimes we do ask particular poets and artists to be in projects) so it always amazes us how the poetry and art which comes to us from across the globe actually seems to fit together perfectly, or put side by side can put a new twist on the theme we hadn’t even considered. There isn’t a connection beyond the themes at first glance but we’ve become quite good (if we can say that) at knowing what works with what beyond the obvious. It takes us quite a while to put things together and we’ve kept the concept of Abridged as a curated space.
Do the poets and the artists/photographers work together at any stage?
For our recent The Merits of Tracer Fire project we asked artist Dragana Jurišić and poet Sarah Cave to work together, and we did Dis-Ease, an issue in which poet Moyra Donaldson and artist Victoria J. Dean collaborated. Our Nothing To Look Forward To But The Past issue (which was part of TULCA Galway 2020) featured commissioned essays as well as poetry, and some of these involved more direct communication between artists and writers. We should probably do more of these collaborations.
Does Abridged organise events where contributors read, perform or exhibit their work or is the journal the key method for presenting the work of the people who submit material?
We haven’t done any launches for the magazines that have involved readings. We have a (possibly unreasonable) aversion to readings. However, Susanna has organised ‘happenings’ in a number of places, two in RUA Red as part ofdifferent Red Line Book Festivals. At one of these (‘Changeling’ 2019) the poets Dawn Watson, Jess Mc Kinney, Eva Griffin and Jessica Bernard performed in front of two slideshows of photography by Megan Doherty and Audrey Gillespie, and a set of new postcard- poems with art by George Shaw was also involved. We get asked on occasion to curate events by particular organisations. One notable one was for the Cuirt in Galway which featured Jacob Polley and Stephanie Burt amongst others. Generally we don’t want to repeat what others do. When the opportunity arises to do something we think could be different and interesting we tend to do it.
What are the aims of Abridged going forward?
We want more people to read Abridged and more people to submit to Abridged. Lately we’ve been collaborating with Libraries NI to have copies in every library in Northern Ireland. Since launching a new website we call ‘the Zone’ during the pandemic (www.abridged.zone), we’ve put our full archive of back issues and projects online (‘reanimating’ them with gifs and commentary, because why not), and now when we publish anything in print it goes online too, so it’s accessible for free from anywhere as a different sort of experience. We’ve also started doing online-only projects, and playing with different things we can do in the digital space, like featuring video and getting sound artists like Ryan Vale (in our We Told You The World Was Sick project) and Daryl Martin (in our Merits of Tracer Fire project). We just want to do more projects, whether it’s publications or exhibitions, and work with more artists. We’ll continue with our Sinnerman postcard project featuring poets from ethnic minorities. We’ll come up with groovy new things also. And as always we want to do these on our own terms.
To find out more about Abridged – www.abridged.zone