Wednesday Jan 19

Kaite-n-Me Welcome to Issue VII, Volume VI: August 2015 of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. As many of you know, August completes our publishing year and in keeping with tradition our editorial staff takes a look back this month at some of the moments, people, and art they championed for publication in Volume VI.

I’ll start by saying that having spent a year with our new bi-monthly rather than bi-weekly publishing schedule, it’s not that bad. Sure, there was some confusion among the staff at the beginning, and I had A LOT of trouble shaking that “I’m supposed to be doing something right now!” panic at the start of the months in which we didn’t run a new issue. Still, it wasn’t bad. The editorial staff seems to have adjusted to the extra time quite well as many have published new work, scheduled reading tours, and began new projects. And I was able to get some rest for the first time in five years, which seems to have provided benefit to my overall health. Yep, not too bad, overall. But I have to confess, I do miss it. I do.

Publishing a magazine’s worth of art every two weeks was nuts. The volume and the turnover was absurd. At one point we had 28 people on staff to cover the workload. The only word I can think of to express the gravity of the constant postal service-like urgency is that it was alarming. All the time. Alarming. Fucking alarming. But man, it was a blast watching it come together.

And with little to no worthwhile transition, overall we had a good year. Our new Fiction Editor, Karen Stefano, entirely came into her own with virtually no hiccups. Her takeover, launch, and subsequent daily editorial efforts have been seamless. I could not be happier with her work. Creative Nonfiction Editor Robert Clark Young had an especially good year as he put together six impressive themed issues that worked to revitalize his column. And Kathleen Dennehy filled our Drama column once again with the work of award winning playwrights. This year coming she’s going to begin introducing both screenwriters as well as audio interviews. Sweet!

Erica Goss continued to helm, in our opinion, one of the strongest columns championing video poetry anywhere. In addition to introducing us to the best and brightest of the genre, she traveled, at her own expense, to Germany again this year to attend the Zebra Poetry Film Festival. Great stuff. Volume VI also saw the return of our intrepid travelista Nicholas Baker who took us to New York City, Marrakech, and this month Tel Aviv! I love how strong Nicholas' voice has become in his column and I've considered doing a print collection of his travels.

The work of our Book Review Editor Julia Bouwsma thrills me. Sends me dizzy. It has fast become one of my favorite columns we have on Connotation Press. Julia is brilliant and fierce and I rarely find myself able to express to her just how much I look forward to her review each issue. For me, every month Julia writes a review is a Do Not Miss month. And my dear friend for what must be a million years now, John Turi, took his idea to write a wine review column and turned it into a charming, award-winning, print & audio book pleasure to trip through.

We had two talented guests edit our Featured Guest Editor column this year. In September, Paul Scot August helmed the ship and brought in ten strong poets, and then joined the Connotation Press Poetry staff for the rest of the publishing year. It was great to have him with us. And in June Justin Phillip Reed entirely floored us with one of the more stunning guest edited columns we have ever published. I am still at a loss for breath every time I read it. I will never be able to thank him enough for giving us the opportunity to publish such vital and necessary poetry.

I think because we have been working so long together and love each other so much, Meg Tuite and I simply can't call it quits. After leaving the Fiction column to the capable hands of Karen Stefano, Meg decided to create a no-holds-barred column with poetry and fiction and creative nonfiction and the best, wildest videos and amazing authors and interviews that tear your heart out and so this year Crazy Rabbit Review was born. What a thrill. Working with Meg is one of the highlights of my professional life, and Crazy Rabbit Review is quickly turning out to be the payoff for all the time we put in together publishing Connotation Press. And did you see the Yuknavitch video this past issue?! How freaking cool was that?!

After six years I am still dumbfounded at the stunning beauty and talent found within the column John Hoppenthaler pulls together issue after issue. A Poetry Congeries is one man’s exquisite fetish writ large. John loves poetry and he loves those that write it—loves it in a way that brings out the best in all of us. Every author in Hoppenthaler’s Congeries is solicited. It is the only column of its kind on our magazine. And it is a testament to his generosity and his all-things-writerly social butterfly-ness.

One of the best things about John's column is his monthly blog. It is not a traditional introductory review of his column, rather, it’s a moment for him to invest his time and years of editing (23 now, I think!) into a statement about life and poetry that always seems to matter. For the past six years I’ve read every one, and even though in this issue he complains, as he does every year when I remind him it’s time for the retrospective issue, it is only because he loves the work of everyone he publishes. Equally. And for him, choosing between them is about as useful as a Lazy Boy Recliner to Bear Grylls.

Finally, early on into the publication of Connotation Press, just a couple of months really, I approached Kaite Hillenbrand, who at the time was working as our Assistant Editor-in-Chief, and asked if she'd take over the Poetry column. Six years and about 440 published poets in her column later, and with a deep and overwhelming sadness, this month Kaite says goodbye to the Poetry column as she simply no longer has the time to manage it.

I've been around publishing in one form or another for 15 years and I have never seen anyone work as hard as Kaite. No one on our staff has worked harder for the past six years. Period. The volume of submissions she and her team vet each month after month have been unbelievable. Through it all she was and is the epitome of grace and professionalism, and her love for writers and writing has made our poetry column something of which we are especially proud.

Kaite no longer has time to manage the column, fair enough, but I have made her an offer. An old one, really. I asked her to marry me and she accepted. Woohoo! Okay, that’s not the offer I’m writing of now. In fact, it’s her old job. And hopefully, she’ll soon retake her position as Assistant Editor-in-Chief. Until then, it has been an honor and a privilege for all of us to work beside her. A job well done, indeed. And yes, she really did say yes. Woohoo!

Finally, and because good and light and joy can often be found even in the darkest moments, I want to express my absolute pleasure in announcing that the new poetry editor for Connotation Press is Julie Brooks Barbour. Kaite and I wholeheartedly believe Julie is the best person for the job, bar none. And she has demonstrated repeatedly and without a moment’s hesitation her dedication to publishing; her kindness, generosity, positive enthusiastic inquisitive spirit; her intelligence; her drive to get the strongest work to the largest audience possible; she has never once even come close to missing a deadline; and, most of all, her love of writing combined to make her the obvious choice as Kaite’s successor. We could not be more excited to see what Julie brings to the table.

That’s it for now. We usually kick this pig and see what it’ll do, but since this is a retrospective issue we already know what it’ll do and done did (ah, Appalachia!). Here then is the editorial staff of Connotation Press and links to the various columns each has produced for our year-in-review:

We’ll be back in September with Issue I, Volume VII of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. Until then, enjoy!

Connotation Press: Pressing Connotations Since 2009

All best,

Ken Robidoux
Publisher/Founding Editor-in-Chief
Connotation Press