Dog Bites

Rain Dog #4 
Reviewer: Emma Unsworth in City Life: Issue 443, 7/11/1

Modestly covered in brown paper and sporting the rough silhouette of a pensive blue terrier, this poetry magazine is a pamphlet of the highest order. Rain Dog has, in the space of four issues, marked out a territory well within the bounds of excellent taste and artistic respectability. Sniffing out the best contemporary poetry, editors Jan Whalen and top local poet Suzanne Batty prepare Rain Dog for publication twice a year with the help of financial support from the North West Arts Board.

The dog itself has a gift for introductions and an unaccountable grasp of Spanish (am I missing something here?). One wonderful section of the editorial reads: "In my humble dog’s opinion, poetry writing is learned like any other art – by studying, practising and the occasional use of plagiarism. […] Hasta Luego.” Rain Dog also makes no bones about the fact that it is far more hungry for work from women poets; a wish reflected in the collection, although work from men is welcomed.

The tacked-on rear review section in the current issue is tame and perhaps a little overly subjective, but readers will have a hard time voting for their favourite creative pieces so that the top three can be awarded ‘prizes’. The good poems are too copious to mention. The really good ones include those by Emma McKee, Sue Vickerman, john siddique and Maria Theresa Moerman Ib, whose name is a poem in itself. The very best has to be Avril Heffernan’s ‘An unhinged tirade of hate’; so scathing that it begs to be read out loud in a measured, raspy voice: “The thing is / when we are apart / I hate him / with a vengeance / but when we are together / I hate him more." From the experimental, phonetic cadences of sean burn’s ‘woolworth checkout operator ov the year’ to the playful genius of Janis Freegard in 'Thirteen Thoughts about Toasters’ (“xii toasters are ‘smart’ these days but toast’s still thick”) Rain Dog is in grave danger of encouraging rather too much of the plagiarism it prescribes.

Rain Dog #2
"I'm glad to have been published in Rain Dog and have enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the other lucky poets. Keep the space open for the centrally strange". 
David Hart

Rain Dog #2
Reviewer: Zine Kat in Dragon's Breath: Issue 68

"V neatly prod poetry mag, pub'd twice-yrly, ed by Jan Whalen & Suzanne Batty. 50pp A5 format, gets NW Arts aid. .....No spud bash stuff here, brd mix tr'fic stuff. Hitch is price. Rating: MUTANT (6/10)" 

I particularly liked: 'No spud bash stuff here' because that's exactly what I said to Suzanne when we started out! (when she replied 'brd mix tr'fic stuff' I had to slap her).

Rain Dog #2 
Reviewer: Steve Anderson in New Hope International Review

Good, solid collection of meaty work in this issue, which contains 46 poems from 27 varied Poets. A lot of these writers are from Manchester or the North West so are known to me from my considerable time spent in various workshops. Steven Waling, Janet Fisher, Liz Kirby, Cathy Bolton, Carter, Emma-Jane Arkady etc. It's especially good to see so many talented people appearing under the one cover. In most cases each poet has been given space for two or three poems. This is great and follows the tradition adopted by Envoi of giving a platform rather than a taste. 

Joint editors, Suzanne Batty and Jan Whalen, both excellent poets in their own right, certainly shine with their selections. All the poems are up-beat, sharp and diverse, ranging from learning to drive, losing a voice, Rapunzul's daughter, a hen night and returning home from Iona...with many stops along the way. 

Plenty of excellent modern work here and definitely something for everyone. Rain Dog is certainly going places sniffing out the gritty business. Be sure you follow those tell-tale paw prints...highly recommended. 



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