THE VANISHING IRC by Padraig O'Morain
(Poetry Ireland News, May/June 2005)
Cost-cutting at An Post has seen the demise of a product used by generations of writers but, unfortunately, by too few other people. The International Reply Coupon has traditionally been the only feasible way to include postage when submitting work to overseas journals. An Post says reply coupons involved a ‘phenomenal’ administration cost and were relatively little used, so it has stopped issuing them. Instead, people who want to make it easier for others to write back to them are encouraged to use the International Business Reply Service. Unfortunately there is a minimum charge of €127 per year for this service and individual writers would generate too little business to be eligible for it anyhow. This more or less leaves us high and dry when it comes to submitting our work to foreign publications.
When I was a lad you could send postal orders for quite small amounts to the UK – but these have been replaced by Postal Money Orders which are only valid in the Republic. E-mail submissions would, of course, make life easy for all of us but most literary magazines won’t accept them – presumably for fear of being flooded with submissions from people sending their latest creations to hundreds of magazines at once.
On the last couple of occasions on which I’ve posted poems to British journals, I’ve enclosed a letter explaining that I can no longer send a Reply Coupon and asking them to e-mail me if they’re going to publish a poem. I haven’t heard back yet but I only sent the poems a couple of months ago, and as we all know that’s hardly the blink of an eye for a literary magazine. I think I’ve got one last International Reply Coupon somewhere or other. Perhaps I’ll frame it...
Padraig O’Morain’s poetry has appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Cyphers, Ambit, The Rialto, The Interpreter’s House, ROPES (Review of Post Graduate Studies, NUI, Galway), Books Ireland, Navis and Snakeskin.