5 Oct 2015


RAUM poetry magazine
RAUM - a tri-quarterly selection ...
RAUM Issue #1 Summer 2015 - Ephemera

RAUM is a new poetry magazine — tri-quarterly — from Glasgow which looks to publish the new, the established, and which attempts to ‘archive and preserve the how and who of life in all its spaces.’ The issue I have here is #1, Summer 2015, the so-called Ephemera issue.

The frequency known herein as tri-quarterly was the first challenge I faced, proving  that I spent a fair ten minutes puzzling over the 6th word in RAUM — at this rate there will be many hours spent in this RAUM publicination, I figured, misspelling and neologising at once.

But does tri-quarterly mean three times a year — that is, once every four months? Or what?

I am still puzzling over this one.  Taking a literal look at this, tri-quarterly could mean either every three quarters or three times a quarter. 

As to whether it means three times per year this is maybe what RAUM intends, but it can’t honestly can’t be.


To complete this matter and before I actually discuss the magazine itself, there is of course a magazine of longstanding repute called TriQuarterly which is published twice a year at Northwestern University and which features fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, literary essays, reviews and graphic art.

There was no confusion however. RAUM is neat, comely, and has a firm spine and is printed in Glasgow.

As my head was hurting, I felt it was time to hit the poetry.  There were some well known voices in here, such as Jim Ferguson who has been publishing honest-to-god straight talking poems and prose since the 1980s, and by all accounts should be better known.

There’s also some better-known younkers, like Calum Rodger, whose Springtime Villanele is reproduced in the typographic glory of its origins, which are on a manual typewriter (it appears).

There are no explicit themes in the magazine collection RAUM, and yet it is possible to trace some out if you are careful. There are for example, many poems concerned with the minutiae of individual lives (as in The Letter-Poem of JA Sutherland; Breakfast of Champions by Finola Scott; Portrait Painted by My Five-Year-Old by Marjorie Lotfi Gill; Pieces Detachees by Eloise Amandine Roy; Short Stay Breakfast by Roy Moller; Night Thoughts by J McCafferty — and indeed others.

What is strikingly absent are commonalty and political discussion or representation.  While these aren’t replaced with navel-gazing, it seems that many of the poets represented in the RAUM world prefer to use their command by presenting that which they can perhaps control ... and these are the smallest things of life.

It isn’t unusual these days to find collections which avoid the public and the political in their entirety. Perhaps it's possible to feel that with the resurgence of interest in national and global issues and the opportunities presented by the internet, that it is wise to write (as Ashby McGowan does in Ripples) of ‘Olive dappled leaves falling in the fading light’ — an information age take on the traditional elements of personal, nature poetry.

Ephemera is an apt name for Issue #1 of RAUM as the poetry within is close up and individual, steers away from the public realm, and focuses on the pockets and breakfast tables of the writers.

Perception, rather than analysis or discussion, is the basis for the kind of poetry in RAUM #1, which uses few metaphors or other kinds of symbolic language but attempts, as in Clary (S. SCLAREA) by Carly Brown, the most intimate examination of the close up:

There is my name
with one letter
inverted or maybe
I’m a misspelled version
of the plant.