Matthew Thomas Smith blurs the political and personal with Jarg Magazine. It’s “anything goes” poetry and protest.
If you had to describe Jarg Magazine in a sentence, what would you say?
It is a lethargic but considered shake of a protest placard.
Are there any themes that run through any recent work you’ve published? If so, how does that theme fit in with Jarg’s ethos?
Politics, probably. Sexual politics, office politics, relationship politics, the politics of self, the politics that most of us didn’t vote for, inter-city how-do-we-fit-into-this politics. The first issue was also punctuated with moments of deeply personal self-reflection. There is no real manifesto where content is concerned. To me, the poems were political but they may not be to another reader. Anything goes. It is an open door. We just wanted to get poetry out to as many people as possible, we weren’t trying to compile some sort of go-to poetry dictionary.
Did you have any particular zines or publications – or even artists or writers – in mind as an influence when you started out? What about them do you think you’ve taken into what you do?
Not as such where zines or publications are concerned, no. Our approach was very DIY. As budgets were strictly limited, perhaps our hands were forced to that table anyway. We just wanted a finished article that would represent our aim of pushing poetry out of the university lecture halls. We were all quite interested in graffiti at the time – we used that as a way to market our ‘brand’ free of charge – but again, there was no real figure that we used as a measuring stick. The next issue will be different from the first in appearance and probably tone, and hopefully the poets and artists I’ll be collaborating with will help reflect this change.
Why are zines and blogs important to you?
Well, they’re both usually free which means there is greater access to them. Further to this, they are often thoroughly opinion-based which can benefit one’s perception and understanding of other human beings and society. And further again, they’re a challenge to mainstream media. That may not be the editor’s intention, but by definition, they are.