Dissonance Magazine is a new online poetry and storytelling platform that began its journey in Canterbury. Tackling subjects relating to politics, gender, identity, sexuality, childhood, environment, mental and physical illness, it’s a collection that tries to relay the experience of a generation confronting an often chaotic and disorientating world.
The editor behind this venture is poet Katrine Solvaag, an MA student at the University of Kent who is studying Creative Writing. Alongside two part-time jobs and her university course, she’s also been working on this space for writers to get their work noticed. We caught up with Katrine (just before she was due to headline a poetry slam at the Eleto Chocolate Café) to find out more.
How did the magazine begin?
My favourite bit of the Creative Writing society was always the annual anthology because you were working with people – editing something, and then making something together. So essentially, I just bought a domain, messaged a lot of people, and it’s just been going ever since.
The artwork and photography that you incorporate into your posts are very beautiful – where or who do you source it from?
Some of the artwork is done by the artists themselves. I have two artists at the moment who I message and who will sometimes make me things. Photography is done by the original author or I’ll use Creative Commons. It’s a nice way for people who do also have an interest in photography to share their work.
Your site reminds me of The Artidote a little, or Berlin Art Parasites. Do you think Instagram has opened the door for more people to be engaged with poetry?
There is a giant poetry community on Instagram. It’s interesting; I read an article recently about the irony of an image based platform being used to share words. I don’t know how many poets find about Dissonance magazine from our Instagram and then submit…but I do think it’s a very interesting medium to use.
Yes, it’s nice to have a visual element, and it can determine how you see a quote or a poem so dramatically.
[For Instagram] I always use the words depending on the picture. The image often produces a certain emotion, and then I find some words that relate to that certain emotion.
Do you get submissions from all over the world?
To begin with, it was very Creative Writing society based, but now it’s grown. Now I get submissions from writers all across the UK, some from Canada and the US – weirdly enough, around Texas. I just got my first Australian submission, so it’s growing very slowly. I remember when I got my first submission from someone I didn’t know, I was just dancing.
What do you think makes a good story or a good poem?
For a story, it might be a twist at the end, for a poem it could be a phrase or description that makes you just pause and think for a moment.
What advice would you give to someone in Canterbury who wanted to get their work out there?
It depends so much on what you want to do! There’s a giant poetry community in the city and numerous poetry and literary events, although not as much for fiction or storytelling. I’d suggest going to the University of Kent Creative Writing society if you’re a student in order to get feedback on your work.
There are so many poetry events in Canterbury, especially when you have Wise Words festival around the corner. It’s a very creative town.
Do you have a favourite poet or author?
Caroline Bergvell. Alternating between English, Norwegian and French but in each poem. Based on a specific instance where there stranded in the Mediterranean ocean and NATO and the UN didn’t help them out – they left them there to die. Her work is inspired by that.
I am enjoying Lost in Translation by Eva Hoffman.
What is one solid piece of advice that you have received in Creative Writing classes?
Avoiding abstractions when writing poetry. Good grammar, the basics.
Write whatever you want, but at least make sure your commas are in the right place.
At the moment, I just want to keep it going. I would also like to do a physical anthology to celebrate a year of the magazine. It will be competition based featuring the most popular written pieces from over the course of the year. And then, yeah, we’ll see what happens from there!
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Images:Kmylla Borges (featured image) Gemma Troy, Ann Coolick, Zansot, Nhung Lee, Lamiaa Ameen and Višnja Mihatov Bari. Courtesy of Dissonance Magazine.