Wow, three years! Each year I’m surprised by how much time has gone by and how many great artists we’ve published.
My team of Associate Editors has been amazing – a hearty thanks and love to JP Reese, Mari L’Esperance, and Nicelle Davis. These ladies have extraordinary talent and have worked with diligence and love to find and interview great poets: fully actualized poets as well as up-and-coming poets with great potential. It’s been an honor to work with my editors and with the poets who have trusted us with their work.
We’re about to say good-bye to one of our team members, though: Mari has decided to step back from the Associate Editor position in order to make more time for her many other endeavors. Mari will be with us
just a little bit longer. We’ll miss you, Mari! Best of luck!
On the plus side, we have two shiny new Associate Editors, and I am so excited to work with these multi-talented, amazing, lovely, charming people: a huge welcome to Doug Van Gundy
! Watch for Mia and Doug’s additions to the magazine in the near future.
For this retrospective issue, I conferred with my amazing team of Associate Editors from the past year, Mari, JP, and Nicelle, and we came up with a long list of poets who made a large impact on us. Somehow, we managed to narrow the list down, and the following poets are the ones we think deserve special recognition.
One of the first poets who came to mind for special mention is Al Maginnes
. Al is charming, thoughtful, funny, and a pleasure to work with. He’s also great to spend time with through his beautiful poetry and his interview answers. In his poetry, Al gets at the pith of living. Reading his poems isn’t just a poem-reading experience; it’s a living experience. I’m grateful to feel like I got to sit down and chat with him for an afternoon – and all just from reading his poems and asking him some questions afterward. I guess what I’m saying is that Maginnes’s poems reach out in a very human way, so that while you read them, you feel like you’re hanging out with one of your best friends. Since I published his work, Al and I have promised to, at some point, hang out on a porch
together. That’s a great thing to have to look forward to!
’s poetry blows me away. Each time I read them, I realize that I am rapt: Mr. Mackey has taken my hand and is leading me through the poems, gently and subtly, but firmly. His stories and his control of rhythm, tone, and image make the world quiet around me. These poems help me understand how the line works. Even if you’ve read Pete’s work already, treat yourself to another read. I’m glad I did.
’s poetry and interview came to mind immediately. Mari L’Esperance wrote of his work: When I first encountered Ocean Vuong’s poems, I thought, here is what I’ve been wanting more of in
contemporary poetry—this depth of feeling, attention to the body (the human body, Earth’s body), and reverence for and celebration of the physical world. Vuong is young in years, but his poems are spoken by an old soul, one whose wisdom and intuitive knowing is necessary in a world that can feel increasingly disconnected from what is essential to fully realized human experience.
We’re also entranced by Sandy Longhorn
’s Midwestern magical realism and the landscapes she navigates – dens and alleys with a coyote; the human body with a yellow jacket and her venom. Ms Longhorn’s poem “The Nature of Conflict,” starting out soft-spoken as fleece, perfectly captures a kind of conflict that can arise even from love. I am drawn to Sandy’s tone over and over again; there is something about it that speaks to and comforts me. Sandy also shared with us a graceful interview with Nicelle Davis.
We love Pamela Porter
’s stunning poetry and her honest, poignant interview. JP Reese wrote of her work: Porter writes a kind of startling, unique, yet firmly grounded poetry that had me saying "Yes!" aloud as I
read through each gem. Hers is poetry of the first order that gets under the skin and won't let go with a grace formed by the poet's observations of nature and human nature. I don't know how anyone could read Porter's work without coming away moved by her depth and charity.
We’ve also had a couple of themes that deserve attention: the poets laureate and the translations.
Each month earlier this year, we published a US state laureate. It was great working with so many of the wonderful poets whom the states have chosen as a representative for poetry. Two of these poets
published in the last year stick out in my mind: JoAnn Balingit
and Peggy Shumaker
. Both of these top-notch poets shared not only beautiful, stunning poems with us, but also very honest, engaging interviews. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to work with them and with all of the poets laureate we published from all over the US.
We’ve published poets not only from across the US; we’ve also been honored this year to be able to publish original poems and translations of poems written all over the world – many of them from Romania. Romanians can write! Some of my favorites of the poems we’ve published have been written outside of the US, and I welcome translations (or originals) from across the globe. Two knock-out examples of translations we’ve published this year include George Vulturescu
’s stunning, commanding work, translated by Adam Sorkin and Olimpia Iacob; and Adina Dabija
’s playful but serious work, translated by Claudia Serea. Ms Serea, in an interview, was kind enough to answer several questions I had about translating poetry. Stay tuned: more translations are coming soon!
Finally, this year, we said good-bye to many friends and poets, including West Virginia’s State Poet Laureate, my friend, Irene McKinney
. Irene touched me as a friend, teacher, mentor, and writer. I’m lucky to have known her and grateful to have one of her final poems to share with you. Rest without pain, my crackerjack friend.
We’ll be back next month with more poetry!