Gutter is 10 Years Old!

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Scotland’s magazine of new writing celebrates its 10th birthday with new design and a special 20th issue featuring Alasdair Gray interview.

In the last 10 years Gutter has published more than 650 writers including well known figures James Kelman, Liz Lochhead, Janice Galloway, Jackie Kay, & Alasdair Gray, as well as many emerging writers who have gone on to further publication.

Scenes, zines, live lit nights (indeed, whole publishing companies), referenda and prime ministers (at last count, three), have come and gone; but as we said when Gutter launched in 2009, we’re in this for the long haul.

Our first and tenth issues’ Editorials were manifestos of sorts, reflecting upon the multiple meanings of our title as noun and verb. It feels important to restate our values as we move into our second decade: the purpose of this magazine is to provide an accessible forum for the best new Scottish prose and poetry—where newcomers share pages with esteemed, established voices. It’s been our honour to publish everyone: from complete unknowns, yet to make their mark, to Alasdair Gray, Liz Lochhead, Jackie Kay and more (welcome, William Boyd and Leila Aboulela).

As Editors, nothing beats the thrill of discovering a fresh, exciting voice. Gutter remains both Scottish and International, something more vital than ever. For us, it is not a duality. In issue 01, we coined a word for our outward-looking, inclusive editorial stance, a stance rooted in this diverse, vibrant city where we are based: Cosmowegianism. It remains at the heart of our approach.

We also said we wanted to encourage writers who take stylistic and thematic risks, who challenge the status quo, and who represent unheard or marginalised voices. As we launch this twentieth (twentieth!) issue, we hope our back-catalogue bears witness to our efforts to do so. We may not always get it right, but our successes give the sense we are part of something necessary.

We are delighted that Carol McKay, who opened issue 01, also opens issue 20. One of the privileges of a decade reading and publishing new work is the ability to take a longer view, to see writers progress and grow. Like Kurt Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorians, to see all time is all time. Across 20 issues, we have published 1511 pieces of prose, poetry and drama by 679 writers. Not just the same writers: on average, each issue contained 32 writers making their Gutter debut, and 4 writers never published anywhere before. Since making their Gutter debuts, those 679 writers have won 28 literary prizes and published 339 books or chapbooks between them.

Sadly, in that time, we also saw some wonderful contributors pass on. It was our honour to have published them and been a small part of their existence. So it goes.

As we approach our adolescence, it’s interesting to reflect on our transition from upstart on the margins of Scottish letters to something of a ‘fixture.’ Complacency is the last thing we desire, so we pass this milestone with renewed commitment to publish the best new writing and challenge the status quo.

To Make It New (as Chu Hsi maybe said, and as Ezra Pound recycled, via 2 Corinthians), we have embarked on a renovation of the magazine, more reflective of our fledgling cooperative and progressive ethos. You will notice the new masthead and header font, which we hope remains instantly recognisable as the Gutter our readers love, whilst evolving the design (we also take the cover pattern in a new direction that we think speaks of murmerations, movement and multiplicities.

Gutter 20 sees us move to a larger font with more generous margins (and gutters) which we hope makes for a more readable book. What doesn’t change however is the price; despite rising print and postage costs. We are grateful for the support we have received from Creative Scotland, but now more than ever, we need you and your friends to subscribe.

The Gutter Interview is now The Conversation (with the inestimable Alasdair Gray discussing his recent translation of Dante) and we present a new non-fiction section—Scance—for memoir, creative non-fiction and essays. Scance is a Scots verb meaning to give a critical or appraising look at, to investigate, refect upon, or scrutinise something; it is also to boast or embellish, and a noun for a gleaming thing. Whichever way, we hope you like the Scance in the Gutter.

Thanks for reading the magazine, and allowing us the privilege of being a wee part of Scottish Letters. We’ve some exciting plans for issues 21 and 22, so here’s to the next year and the next decade of Gutter Magazine.

Join us to celebrate Gutter’s 10th birthday with a little low quality fizz and high quality readings at the Scottish Poetry Library on the
24th of August

- The Editors