Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Ambit then (see previous posting for reasons)

Ambit has been going a long time for a little mag, since 1959 to be exact. It may be the only literary magazine started by a paediatrician, the doc in question being Martin Bax. Over the years the editorial team has included Carol Ann Duffy, Geoff Nicholson and JG Ballard. Since its inception, or at least as long as I can remember (which is not the same thing) Ambit has carried art, poetry, reviews and short fiction. There are some lit mags which carry short fiction but you get the impression the fiction is not central, but it is central in Ambit. Five Leaves has published quite a lot of David Belbin's stories that were first seen in Ambit and I'm pleased that the current issue (203) includes a few poets we've anthologised, and one novelist we've published. The latter, Carl Tighe, is an Ambit regular but in this issue his poetry appears. In the interests of transparency the current issue also includes a review of one of our John Lucas books, but it is Jim Burns - who has been appearing in all the best little mags forever. Other favourite regulars from the little mags include Alexis Lykiard and Helena Nelson.
The other thing I like about Ambit is that it includes a reasonable selection of a writer's work, in this issue a set of Fred Voss's industrial worker poems and a sequence by Judith Kazantzis.
Also in the interests of transparency, or something, I have to say the artwork in the current issue is not to my liking. Indeed Mike Foreman, the art editor's taste is not usually mine. But what do I know about art? This posting is illustrated by a back issue cover I do like.
Conclusion - Ambit is a good, solid read, grounded in the small press movement but with links in the bigger world. It is good on short fiction, loyal to its writers and is not a dedicated follower of fashion. If I liked the artwork more I'd be keener still, but I'm not suggesting any change since the strong editorial line and consistency shows the team knows what it is doing. Individual copies cost £8, subs £28, http://www.ambitmagazine.co.uk/. 96 pages, quarterly.

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