Interview: Icarus Editors

Susie [Galbraith] and Niall [McCabe], thank you so much! Let’s get to it: What is Icarus?

Susie: Icarus is a creative writing magazine. There are three each year, and submissions are open to students and alumni of Trinity. Submissions are processed by the editors-

Niall: That’s us!

Susie: -and then we compile them into the magazine. We accept poetry, prose, artwork, photography… creative things!

Niall: It’s Ireland’s oldest literary magazine. It’s been running for about..

<Susie: It’s the 65th anniversary next year.>

Niall: It’s the 65th anniversary next year! Icarus has this incredible legacy, and it really is an honour for both of us to be the editors, but you do feel the weight, which isn’t a bad thing!

Susie: It inspires you to carry the magazine forward, and to make your mark.

How do you put the magazine together?

Susie: The magazine is compiled out of a plethora of submissions, and when they are put into a collection the individual submissions end up having a dialogue with each other.

Niall: Compiling the submissions becomes a very creative process. When you start putting these individual pieces together, you have to find an art that runs throughout the issue.

Is there a preset theme for each issue?

Susie: We did discuss having a theme for this issue, but we felt that might limit people’s creativity. Icarus is an opportunity to write and submit what you want to write. But we did decide to make the editorial more imaginative this year; we had some fun and molded a stylised editorial together. For this issue’s editorial, in terms of a theme, we were playing with the idea of Icarus as an artist.

Niall: There are many ways to read the Icarus myth, and in our editorial we took inspiration from the first line of Jack Gilbert’s poem ‘Failing and Flying.’ [“Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.”] Learning to fail is such an integral part of art. For us, the myth isn’t about somebody falling and drowning, it’s about going to your limits, and surprising yourself with your work. For anyone thinking of submitting, all I can advise you to do is to question your immediate, easy impulses; really torture your language; fly close to the sun; drown; fail; get up and fly again! That’s my take on it anyway!

Susie: I couldn’t agree more. I would be so encouraging of anybody who is tempted to submit. It’s important to get into the habit of submitting your work whenever you can, regardless of the initial outcome. When I was in first year I didn’t get accepted, and now I’m the editor! If you get rejected – horrible word, but it’s how people feel! – it’s important to remember that it’s just part of the process of being a writer. It’s more than likely that it just doesn’t fit in with this issue, so please keep going! Unfortunately there is so much that doesn’t end up in the magazine, for so many reasons, but we consider every single piece.

Niall: Nothing goes unread. We owe it to the person who has taken the time to write it and send it in to us. We take all submissions seriously, and if somebody comes to us afterwards asking why they didn’t get in, we have no problem discussing it with them.

Susie: It’s not as if our feedback is infallible by any stretch, of course we make mistakes as editors!

Niall: And that’s the nature of creating anything. Dealing with your fallibility and with receiving criticism is the most important part of being an artist. I mean, F Scott Fitzgerald sent The Great Gatsby to 27 publishers around New York and was declined by every one of them until one of them wrote back and said: “Mr. Fitzgerald, you are obviously a very talented prose writer, but your central character, Gatsby, is too vague.” And Fitzgerald wrote back: “Thank you very much for your kind analysis of my work. I will attempt to make his vagueness clearer.’

Do you have a favourite piece in the current issue?

Susie: Well, it’s all to do with the balance for me.
Niall: Absolutely.

[there is a pause]

I mean, really?

Niall: Oh, our Featured Author! For each issue, we get an established writer to publish some new work in the magazine to put alongside the writers from Trinity, which is obviously a great privilege! For this issue, the well-known American poet, Cyrus Cassells, very kindly gave us two of his new poems.

How did you decide on Cyrus Cassells?

Niall: I just asked him! Cyrus did a reading at Trinity last year and we became friends on Facebook. I’ve always been a fan of his work, and I felt it would be cool to help introduce his poetry to new readers here in Ireland. He was more than delighted to be involved, and he’s given us two really beautiful poems.

Icarus is still very much a printed publication first and foremost, what is your stance in the Online vs. Print debate?

Susie: We do have an online edition, which is slightly expanded. We include a few of the works that we couldn’t fit into the print edition. In terms of primarily focussing on the print version, I am all in favour of print, personally. There’s a – sort of – permanence to the artefact.

Niall: It’s an object.

Susie: And I love for books to be objects! I love the idea that Icarus can sit on people’s shelves and be pulled out in years to come.

Niall: It’s important to have something to hold, to get your work published in an actual… thing! That’s not to say getting your work published online is any less of an achievement, but there is something indisputable about having something tactile, that you can own. It’s important to have both strands going, because the online version is, undeniably, a better way of showcasing much more of the work, which we simply can’t fit into a printed magazine… But I’m very attached to real books!

Susie: Also, it’s nice to have a physical object that can be launched. The launch party brings people together. It’s a chance to talk to people who have similar interests, to discuss the issue – the thing in your hand – and such a great atmosphere is always created by that affinity. Being published online is wonderful and infinite, but there is something to be said for not being able to flick to another tab at any time. You are able to experience the work in isolation much more easily, and with something like creative writing, which needs to be pondered over, that’s important. It’s not just information to consume.



The current issue of Icarus is available from various locations around campus (we recommend the English Department in The Arts Block).

Submissions for the next issue will be open next term, and enquiries in the mean time should be sent to

Merry Gift-Giving-Family-Time-Holiday, and remember: The door is always open:


One thought on “Interview: Icarus Editors

  1. Well this interview consisted of idiotic waffle. Especially Niall, some of those replies were cringe worthy.

    There is also no website for the Icarus,and I’m Googling for the online journal and I can’t find it. All I can find is this interview. The website really is one of the minimum requirements of your job. It doesn’t need to be spectacular, but it does need to exist.

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