Joy, Death & Second Editions – starting a poetry zine in Shanghai

The second edition usually cements the first. With the initial impetus, there’s a lot of excitement, a lot of ideas and a lot of learning. By the time the paper dust has cleared, you are a few months down the line and planning a second one. There’s a feeling like, ‘so we’re doing this.’ By the time you are running edition two, you realise you have started a publication rather than a one-off.

This edition emerged out of tragedy. Two days after the fantastic launch of the first one, my co-host at the event messaged our group:

“Guys”

“My beloved girlfriend just died this afternoon in front of my eyes.”

At first you think he’s joking, and then the shock hits you and it seems so unreal. You realise he’s not and you have no idea what to say. It seems like such a strange thing – two days before, you were celebrating and then suddenly everything has changed.

I didn’t know him well before this and I never met his girlfriend. When I saw him a few days later, he hugged me and held onto me for a long time. He was all out of tears, he said, but he wanted to make something she would be proud of, he wanted to carry on her work in martial arts and meditation. And he hoped she could inspire the zine.

Her name was Joy and it seemed obvious what the next title should be.

Over the months since, we have spent more time together and I’ve got to know him as a friend, and have heard more about the amazing person Joy was. As far as I can tell, without having met her, her name suited her perfectly.

And so, the months have carried on. With bereavement I imagine it feels like the world shouldn’t keep moving, but it does and we’ve reached February. The submissions are in, and the chosen poems are in there ready to be read and assembled.

The topic was a tricky one, not one we would have normally chosen. How do you express joy in a poem? How do you capture something so fleeting and rare? Few poets knew the circumstances behind it, though some are likely to take an opposite stance. Others might create a way in through metaphor or by distancing the narrative. I’ve no idea of the response as I haven’t read them yet. It’s certain, though, to be exciting and challenging. We’re hoping for a rich variety of work and a fitting tribute to Joy herself.

If you’d like to keep up with IHOP zine and receive a copy in the post or by email, message me here or follow me on Twitter at @marshalldavi and ask me to follow you back.

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