Probably the oldest continuously published poetry zine on the web – possibly the oldest literary zine of any type – is Snakeskin, published monthly by George Simmers since December 1995.
There are many unique aspects to Snakeskin, including in the archives:
- the pervasive wit and humour, tolerantly secular, expressed in the zine’s name from the first issue with Wayne Carvosso’s poem “Credo” – “we are the kindred of the snake.”
- a long interview of George conducted by Helena Nelson, entirely in iambic pentameter (for George is a skilled and fluent poet, though he rarely publishes in Snakeskin these days)
- projects and experiments, including various hypertexts
- and a standard feature for the past several years, Bruce Bentzman’s blog-like soliloquies, or essays – a very sensitive and deeply emotional journey.
But what is particularly nice for poets is that George has no interest in names, reputations or bios – he just reads the poems, and chooses what takes his fancy. Very few of the issues are themed in advance, but they may reflect his mood or the time of year or whatever, and end up with a mood of their own.
And, despite what the Credo states —
“Nor shall we sit to lunch with those
Who moralise in semi-prose.
A poem should be rich as cake,
Say the kindred of the snake” —
George takes any form or lack of form, so long as the piece works for him. This may reflect the tolerance of someone who had a career as a teacher; or it may reflect the Yorkshireman’s well-known preference for the practical over mere theory. In either case, it presents a wonderful opportunity for a new poet to break into publication in an internationally recognised magazine.
Read an issue or two – there’s something for everyone!