Poise Vol. 1 (2023) - Editorial
A welcome to Poise
It’s traditional for editors to give readers of their journal a whirlwind tour of the riches inside the latest issue. This will often be accompanied by choice arguments that highlight the vital importance of what’s there. Here, however, as we launch the first issue of Poise, we offer the reader a far more exciting prospect: we invite you into a universe of possibility which, at the time of writing, contains absolutely nothing at all beyond the front cover and the colophon page (and this editorial). We’re rather forced into this tongue-in-cheek announcement by the fact that Poise runs a policy of continuous publication. We’ll start a new volume each calendar year and publish pieces one by one as they become ready for publication. New material will be announced via existing channels such as the Mouritz Newsletter and Facebook page. The ‘Table of Contents’ will get produced last, as we put the volume to bed at the end of the year.
To describe this prospect as ‘exciting’ is not, in any case, tongue-in-cheek as far as I am concerned. The possibilities and advantages of publishing via an online platform are genuine and compelling. Let me pick out two of them. Firstly – perhaps most importantly – we do not have the costs associated with a print journal, neither for printing nor for distribution. The main cost is, of course, our time – but this we willingly give, as generations of people in the Alexander community have done over the decades for the projects they believe in. The result is an open-access journal where all the content without exception is free to download and available to anyone, anywhere, who has an internet connection and the ability to print or display a PDF document. No subscription or institutional affiliation is needed or assumed.
Secondly, we are able to offer contributors a speedier path from creation to publication, unconstrained by publishing schedules. An important consequence is that debate and discussion amongst contributors can occur in real time (relatively speaking). Intelligent contributions can call forth intelligent responses before topics go stale. A space can develop that facilitates genuine progress towards understanding and insight. This does not demand that commentary should occur immediately, however. Whilst any new contribution is always published as the latest piece in the current volume, if it responds to an earlier contribution it will also be posted alongside that contribution, creating a cluster of related articles accessible at a single location.
It can be objected here that this is hardly new: the web is already awash with free content and free commentary, in blogs, in forums, and on social media platforms. Fair enough – it is. But Poise is very much conceived of as a journal. Nothing is published without going through the normal quality control processes that you’d expect a journal to provide. Here, Mouritz already has a solid track record, having published four issues of the journal Conscious Control [CCJ] over the years 2007-8. Indeed, early discussions between myself and Jean Fischer in 2020 assumed that the project we were embarking on was simply an online relaunch of CCJ. But after further discussion we concluded it would be better to start afresh. Whatever differences emerge between Poise and Conscious Control, however, they won’t be around the editors’ commitment to quality.
This raises the question whether the two journals might be different in other respects. Poise certainly intends to pick up where Conscious Control left off. For a start, it will publish the winning entries from the Mouritz Award for Writing on the Alexander Technique. And it will continue to cast its net widely. It is not just intended for heavyweight articles pushing at boundaries. As with Conscious Control, it is also about cartoons and poetry, memoir and interview, history and review. In short, it’s about anything that a reader interested in the Alexander Technique might find worthwhile to encounter. But the ability to link scattered material together coupled with the absence of physical constraints should expand the possibilities of what can comfortably be offered. As already noted, that might include a lively ‘Letters to the Editor’ section. Other shorter pieces of the ‘Notes and Queries’ type might slide in comfortably between longer pieces; and by contrast, those longer pieces might now – if appropriate – be longer than hitherto, e.g. by incorporating appendices that a print journal might have been forced to omit.
Leaving aside the journal as a whole and its wider ambitions, I’d like to issue an invitation to authors who otherwise might hesitate, for various reasons, to put their work forwards for publication. Firstly, we will be happy to consider material that is already out there – or has once been out there – but which is hard or impossible to find. That includes out-of-print articles, for example. It might also mean material adapted from blog posts marooned in obscure corners of cyberspace that people rarely, if ever, discover.
Secondly, there must be those within the international Alexander community who have previously not had the confidence to express themselves in English but who could do so with the right support. Regrettably, Poise itself cannot offer translation services, but by encouraging new voices and helping with the search for the resources needed we might provide the springboard required. Certainly, if there is no demand, there will be no supply: let Poise therefore be part of the demand.
Thirdly, Poise leans towards the humanities, which, broadly conceived, refers to the world of meanings and experience. Meanings and experience are often best expressed through stories, and we welcome them from any source: from student teachers, from recently qualified teachers, from retired teachers, from pupils – in short, from Alexandrians across the board whose discoveries and experiences are worth recounting. Most are: you do not have to be a ‘senior teacher’ to qualify. Wouldn’t we welcome an ‘Evolution of a Technique’ written by Alexander immediately after his journey of discovery, rather than thirty or more years later? But perhaps that is a bad example. Stories do not have to involve grand discoveries or epiphanies to be valuable. Nor do they need to be success stories. They need do no more than capture, honestly and humbly, truths that can touch us and connect with the Alexander Technique. If you want to write it, it’s most likely that others will want to read it.
I trust that readers will not take the foregoing to mark the full scope of what we are looking to publish. Far from it. The full list can be found in the ‘Suitability’ section on our web-page ‘Getting published: from draft to publication’. On the other hand, I hope that you will pick up a definite and important sub-text: the editors are committed to helping and supporting people towards publication. We don’t assume that people will need our help: there are many highly competent writers and artists within the Alexander community whose unique voices we could not in any way improve. But the offer is there, for those who might benefit from encouragement.
On the other side of the equation, we the editors certainly would welcome help ourselves. Most obviously we want material to publish. Perhaps there are people we can turn to for regular contributions, for example as book reviewers, or as diarists whose updates offer insightful windows into their lives with the Technique. More selfishly, we would benefit from more volunteers on the editorial team: people willing to do copy-editing, or carry out peer reviews, or sit on an Editorial Advisory Board. The door is open to those with skill and enthusiasm.
That’s the future we’re hoping for. In the meantime, the editors themselves will be contributing articles. It isn’t exactly the arms-length relationship between editor and author that scholarly publishing would prefer—but needs must. As the American comedian George Carlin once observed: ‘D'ja ever take the time start a path? Go ahead. It's a little hard; you have to hold the grass down yourself at first.’ That’s what the editors will be doing be doing as potential contributors head for their typewriters: we’ll be holding the grass down ourselves.
We hope you enjoy what Poise will have to offer. And we look forward to hearing from you.
Copyright © David Gibbens, 2023; Mouritz, 2023
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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David Gibbens, ‘Editorial’, Poise Vol. 1 (2023), article POI023JE1.02.
Downloadable from https://mouritz.org/journal/articles/POI023JE1.02
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Article ID corrected and web location updated 17 July 2023 (..._v2).
Online version made available 18 July 2023.
Typographical error corrected 27 July 2023.
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 Issues of Conscious Control are now available as PDFs from the Mouritz website here.
 The first build of Poise was actually the four issues of CCJ. That gave us ‘proof of concept’.
 For details, see the dedicated page on the Mouritz website.
 Notes and Queries was a long-running Victorian periodical that sought to capture facts, folklore, and history that was seen to be in danger of disappearing under the impact of industrialisation. It is described by Patrick Leary as being ‘packed with a bewilderingly fragmented array of minutiae about old manuscripts, obscure incidents, forgotten customs, and local lore’: what’s not to like? Patrick Leary, ‘A Victorian Virtual Community’, Victorian Review, vol. 25, no. 2 (2000), pp. 61–79 (p. 61); a version is accessible via the ‘Notes and Queries’ page in the Victorian Web section on periodicals: < https://victorianweb.org/periodicals/notesandqueries/index.html > [accessed 10 July 2023].
 This is F. Matthias Alexander’s account of how he discovered his technique, Chapter One in The Use of the Self (London: Gollancz, 1985) ], pp. 21-48, first published in 1932. It remains the most important single text for teachers of the Alexander Technique.
 George Carlin, ‘Goofy s**t’, Toledo Window Box (USA: Little David, 1974), LD3003, Track 1.