THE INTERPRETER’S HOUSE started life in 1996 as a Bedfordshire magazine and the title comes from ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’
‘the house of the Interpreter; at whose door he should knock;
and he would show him excellent things’.
I’ve always been guided by that principle, and by the inscription on a mug in a Bedford museum, ‘the best is not too good for you’.
POETRY NEWS commented at the time that ‘the pieces in THE INTERPRETER’S HOUSE are quite unusual, as founder editor Merryn Williams looks for “the union of simplicity and mystery which makes writing memorable” The first issue was interesting because of this third dimension; the works mutate and change meanings so they are exciting to reread’. New editor Simon Curtis in Plymouth seeks to encourage a sense of continuity.
Fifteen years on, we are now based in Plymouth after developing in Oxford, but we open our doors to poems and short stories from all over the world. We’ve printed some seven hundred writers in the first twenty-three issues – normally, only one piece per person per time. I do not encourage published writers to try again too quickly as I am anxious that the magazine should not be identified with a clique.
We survive on a mixture of small grants and the proceeds of the Bedford Poetry Competition, now in its seventh year; the winning poems are always printed in the February number. Other issues appear in June and October.
Submissions are dealt with swiftly, and I try not to keep anyone waiting too long for publication. We’ve included some extremely distinguished poets (Dannie Abse, Alan Brownjohn, David Constantine, Sophie Hannah, Sheenagh Pugh, Carole Satyamurti, Vernon Scannell, R.S. Thomas), and work first published in THE INTERPRETER’S HOUSE has appeared in three Forward Books of Poetry.
I believe that modern poetry has drifted dangerously far from the common reader and admire work which is technically accomplished, has powerful images, and appears to mean something. I am always trying to make the magazine better and always glad to hear from writers I have not encountered before.