Zines From The Pantry: Butcher’s Dog Magazine (Issue 11) reviewed by Claire Faulkner

I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of Issue 11 of Butcher’s Dog Magazine recently, and what a wonderful present it was. Butcher’s Dog publishes two magazines a year, each issue has an original art cover and features up to 25 exceptional poems. Issue 11 was edited by Dr Jo Clement, Will Barrett and Ali Lewis.

As a magazine, it’s beautifully made. The cover piece by Qi Fang is awash with soft blues, purples and pinks. It feels lovely to read. The poems flow and work together, supporting each other but still have their own identity and voice.

The thrill of getting publications like this is the introduction to new poets you might not have read or discovered before, and there are some outstanding poems in this issue.

I have read my copy several times now, it has accompanied me on train journeys up and down the country. Each time I found a new favourite, a new meaning or a new interpretation of one of the poems. Which makes this a difficult review to write. The poems I mention in this review are the ones which captured me somehow, or which stayed with me long after my train journeys were over.

Even the dedication of this issue captured my soul and made me wonder about Buckley. I can picture the joyful dog at the beach with his “…golden tail held high, / face to face with the ocean’s spray.”

Sheep in flood by Iain Twiddy is a beautiful piece of writing centred around nature, memory and loss. There’s an urgency in the structure and language used, which to me emphasises the strength and struggle in both life and death.

“…You pulled it in, your ninety-year-old forearms
and shoulders and spine, dragged at that boulder,
slippy as rock moss, heaved it, gripping, up
through the mud, then gasped back into the bank,
panting in the mist, your heart a shudder
thumped again when it instantly upped
onto its stump-black legs and ran off…”

Armistice Day by Victor Buehring captures the moment of a two-minute silence with vivid clarity, but could also be questioning the readers perception of peace within society today.

Your daughter is looking for you in the library by Claire Collison, completely entered my imagination. I enjoyed the structure of the poem, and how imagery was used to search for someone within items and documents. There’s a haunting quality to this piece, and by the end I could see into that microscope. 

“…Your daughter couldn’t work out your brass microscope

                                                                                                root tip of hyacinth

so we can’t see what you saw

                                                                                                blood smear

in slides the size of sticking plasters –

                                                                                                pike scales

all that you gave up,

                                                                                               Spiracle (side) Dytiscus

under glass.”

Two elephants in a room by Tom Sastry struck me the moment I read it. It’s both beautiful and dark at the same time.

“…I did see a mirror.
I saw what a mirror makes me feel.
I didn’t understand it.
I had no use for it…”

Is this poem about seeing the truth, self-identity or survival? It’s a striking piece of writing, with a well-deserved place in a strong and inspiring magazine.

I could go on and on about this issue of Butcher’s Dog Magazine, instead I recommend that you seek a copy out for yourself, dive in headfirst and see what gems you find for yourself. You can find out more information on Butcher’s Dog or Twitter