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At Lancaster University, budding journalists turn to SCAN to be shown the proverbial ropes and gain some experience in the field of hackery. Where, then, do the puffy shirted bards amongst us go to have the blood and sweat splattered products of our muse displayed in print? To Cake magazine, one would hope; Lancaster University’s twice annual bumper-hunk of poetry, flash fiction and literary review.
Named so because it collects its content from various sources to create a finished whole, Cake Magazine was conceived in 2008 by English Literature MA student Martha Sprackland (daughter of Jean Sprackland, the renowned T.S. Elliott prize short-listed poet) and Andrew McMillan (son of Ian McMillan, the renowned broadcaster, playwright and poet), after they decreed that Lancaster University lacked a meaningful platform for enthusiastic poets, authors and literary critics since ‘Continuum’ ceased publication in the 1990s. With the sum of £800, kindly granted by Lancaster’s nationally revered department of English and Creative Writing (to which Cake is a major boon), the first issue was printed and distributed in Autumn 2009.
So, it’s undoubtedly a rinky-dink, clip-art laden, five page budget printed little rag riddled with spelling errors and laughable use of iambic pentameter if it was cobbled together by a couple of students then, yes? It most assuredly consists of the grotty spawn of a few creative writing students trying in vain to boost their CVs and succeeding with the gusto of a seagull in the gulf oil spill, right? Wrong, emphatically wrong. But don’t take my word for it, take the word of the published poet Luke Kennard, who described Cake as “the most outward-looking, vigorously contemporary literary journal to come out of a university […] a beautifully produced and vibrant selection of poetry […] from well-known and emerging writers”, or of the multiple award winning poet George Szirtes, who provided a guest editorial for the first issue.
Why, though, should anyone submit their work to a twice yearly poetry magazine when the blogdom district of the world wide web is but a few keystrokes away? Because contributions are filtered and assessed by ardent followers and practitioners of poetry who know what’s right and what’s shite, and because Cake publishes new work from acclaimed veterans – Mandy Coe, Sarah Hymas (who performed at the launch of the magazine’s second issue at the Peter Scott Gallery in February, 2011), Roddy Lumsden, Joolz Denby and Peter Sansom, to name but a few. Passing assessment stages and being under a spotlight also pointed at established writers in a widely distributed, quality publication offers the validation so desperately sought after by young buck creatives. Another plus is the aesthetic quality and happiness of holding a physical copy of your work in your hands.
Although founded at Lancaster University, Cake’s team reviews and publishes submissions (of which there are 60-70 a week) not only from Lancaster students, but, well, from pretty much anyone in the world. And that isn’t the only way in which Cake’s tentacles have spread across the globe. Submissions and orders for copies have been made by poetry enthusiasts in Israel, Italy, France, Germany, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand. Subscription orders have been placed by the South Bank Poetry Library in London and the Madison County Library in Wisconsin, and plans to put Cake on the stands at independent bookstores and national chains such as Waterstone’s are already afoot.
As if the smorgasbord of opportunities isn’t vast enough already, there are also openings for potential helping hands. Sprackland has been juggling the editorial, administrative and financial sides of the magazine since McMillan graduated earlier this year, and she gladly welcomes anyone who might like to step forward and volunteer to proofread content, liaise with printing companies, undertake editorial duties and other such tasks.
With issues one and two already in the can and selling like hotcakes, issue three is now baked, printed and ready to serve as an excuse for a glitzy launch evening, which will take place at the Peter Scott Gallery on Tuesday the 25th of October at 7:30 PM*. The event promises free wine, free cakes (baked by Martha herself), copies of the shiny new edition for £5 (baked by writers the world over), and readings of new and exclusive works from students and famous poets alike.
If you are gifted with a masterful handling of language and a flair for metaphor and emotion, then don’t remain in the closet for a moment longer – throw your ingredients into the bowl and you may well end up as the icing atop a nourishing, wholesome and really rather delicious Cake.
If you’d like to submit your work for review and potential publication in Cake Magazine, send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Martha Sprackland, editor of Cake Magazine, can be contacted via the following email address: email@example.com
* The time of the launch is subject to changes by LICA. Anyone wanting to attend would be advised to check www.cake-poetry.co.uk for updates.