Wednesday Jan 19

IMG00125 Welcome to Issue I, Volume VII: September 2015 of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact.

With this issue we launch our seventh year of Connotation Press. Woohoo! Our low-ball estimates put us well over 1650 poets, fiction writers, creative nonfiction writers, and playwrights published, not to mention all the travel, book, wine, and video poetry reviews, special features, and retired columns. 

It’s been a hell of a run. As I scrolled through the magazine this evening some of the names that popped up floored me all over again: Claudia Emerson, Tomaž Šalamun, Andrei Codrescu, Pablo Medina, David Lehman, Maxine Kumin, Campbell McGrath, Dorianne Laux, Natasha Trethewey, Stanley Plumly, Jim Daniels, Keetje Kuipers, Carl Dennis, Peter Everwine, Quincy Troupe, Nathalie Handal, David St. John, Andrew Tonkovich, Christopher Buckley, Mark Brazaitis, Frank X Walker, Oliver de la Paz, Ilya Kaminsky, Ralph Angel, Pat Pujolas, Jessica Keener, P.T. Paul, Joan Connor, Scott Campbell, Ed Weathers, Cary Holladay, Taylor Negron, Marka-Lewis Ryan, Rae Armantrout, Sam Catlin, Ken Roht, Charles Evered, James Harms, Susan Straight, Frank Gaspar, Claudia Serea, a couple dozen Poet Laureates from states around the country, and the late Allen Hoey. And this is just a short list, people. If I spent any real time putting together a complete list it might just scare me into hiding.

It is seriously overwhelming to imagine the amount of work that has went into this thing. All the hours that our all-volunteer staff has put in over the years to keep this cork bobbing are staggering to consider. And all the money I’ve personally spent, I mean, I fund this thing. All of it. Always have. And I do it out of my West Virginia adjunct college teacher less than $12,000 a year salary, too. Fun, huh? However, the good news is it’s just slightly less overwhelming when doing it than when looking back at it. On the day to day it’s mostly just a vacillation between scary as hell moments and the awesome rush of being the first to see and then publish some of the most earth-axis-tilting pieces of written art on the planet. 

I’m a grateful guy and have been the whole run even through the crazy times. Once we were threatened with a lawsuit as someone decided we weren’t publishing their work because they were “disabled and belong[ed] to a minority,” when in reality it was due to the disturbingly misogynistic and dismissive way the person treated my editorial staff. I provided example after example from our pages to show that we are an especially inclusive magazine, but it wasn’t until I let the person know I am a member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas & Nebraska who lives with frontal-lobe epilepsy that the threat came to a quick end. I guess my crazy out crazied theirs. Then we get the pleasure of dealing with folks retracting pieces we’ve published because who they are now no longer likes what who they were then wrote, riding shotgun with the writers who never actually read us before publication and then when they realized we weren’t just some little boutique short-run fetish mag and instead are read by tens of thousands of discerning minds every month from all over the world, headed for the chicken exit and retraction row, with the we-wait-to-revise-until-after-we-publish people spilling out the back seat windows: Many of these issues no print publication ever had to contend with. And of course the repeated, REPEATED (that beared repeating!) website crashes and overhauls and platform upgrades and updates and new software needs all eventually leading to the need for our own expensive server. Yep, it’s been a real bitch some times. Still, though, I have never been anything but grateful. Crazy, right? It's almost like Bill Murray is all up in my head chanting, "It just doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter" and I'm right there banging a stump on the hardwood floor and chanting right along with him. It has been that kind of a spectacular ride.

I guess before this note degenerates further into melancholy and the evil horry neatherbitch and bane of all writers of my ilk, sentimentality, let’s kick this pig and see what it’ll do!

We have a tight but talent packed first half of Issue I this month, including the following offerings:

With his column, A Poetry Congeries, John Hoppenthaler knocks another one of out the park this month presenting new work by one of my all-time favorite poets Robin Becker. YES! John adds the brilliant Ellen Bass, Joshua Bennett, Julie Funderburk, J. P. Dancing Bear, Jo McDougall, and his feature for the launch of Volume VII, Jennifer Givhan. In addition to a truly compelling interview with Ms Givhan and three killer poems, we also have an audio reading to go with the first piece, “First Light in Tahoe City.” Amazing. Finally, John’s blog note this month puts a call out there for Ghost Story poems. Fun! Great job, John! 

Crazy Rabbit Review editor Meg Tuite brings us another intimate look at another stellar author. She writes, “Larissa Shmailo is radiant brilliance and potency. She is a loaded chamber of bullets blasting through the amplified hemorrhage of power, abuse, a hemlock sky of wild spirit poet/writer/translator/academic of yesterdays and today who never sabotages the raw truth of her writing for pastoral images to buffer the blows. She straddles academia with street in her prose and poetry. She talks the walk and walks the talk.” Yep! And since there is now no way whatsoever that I’m going to top that, we’ll go with it. Welcome Ms Shmailo and great job, Meg!

This month our video-poetry review column, The Third Form with Erica Goss, gets into the work of one of the new generation of Fresno Poets, David Campos. In addition to writing, David has taken to creating his own video-poems to accompany his work, and Erica is there to interview him. I confess, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, working with, and publishing David, BUT STILL! I love this column. So much YES here every month. Great job, Erica! And someday I hope you do a feature on the work by the young women in your video-poetry workshop, too. You’re doing great work there.

Julia Bouwsma aims her reviewing gaze at the new collection edited by the genius of Laura McCullough from University of Georgia Press, A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race. We tend to only review books that we enjoyed here at Connotation Press because why give press to bad work? Better to show you what we loved and why. And this book gets a great review from someone I consider one of the best at what she does anywhere to be found. Rock on, Julia!

A Drinker with a Writing Problem, by John Turi is our award winning wine review column. And really, if a guy who you knew could write and who you loved and were friends with for nearly three decades approached you with a pitch for a new wine column with a title like that how could you not go for it? This month John takes a long pull off of a Rivers-Marie, Summa Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir, which clocks in right around the $60 a bottle range. Cheers!

Before signing off I’ll take this time to remind you the rest of our Issue I, Volume VII: September 2015 post, including offerings in our Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Drama columns, will go live on the 15th of the month. We’d love to see you there. 

Thank you for tuning in once again to our after-the-colon running joke. Like whoever they are used to say, we’re here because you’re here. And ain’t here grand!

Connotation Press: Gushing Immaturely Since 2009

All best,

Ken Robidoux
Publisher/ Founding Editor-in-Chief