Wednesday Jun 19

KaiteHillenbrand I love the idea of a retrospective issue of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. Being part of this magazine has been challenging and rewarding in all sorts of ways. Interviewing and having conversations with so many wonderful and gracious poets is just the bee’s knees. I get to read stellar submissions while the rest of the world goes quiet, and then I get to talk to the artist and publish their work next to the art my fellow editors have discovered in their inboxes. I came to art for the conversation, and it’s just so neat to be involved in this part of the exchange. It’s my honor and privilege to be here. 

It’s important to recognize the people who’ve made this possible, which is why I like the idea of a retrospective issue so much; outside of Ken and our amazing staff of editors, we’ve received a tremendous amount of support from writers since the idea for this magazine hatched. From before our launch, artists have lent us their credibility, trusting that we would do right by their work and find people to read it. I wasn’t the only staff member floored and touched by the quality of work we received. Great artists didn’t just send us work; they sent us their best work, and they were excited about it. I’m really happy, now, to be able to draw your attention to many of those early contributors who helped make us what we are today.

F. Daniel Rzicznek is the first poet I thought of for this special edition. There were a few early contributors whose work we carried around for days, in dazes, wondering how the hell we’d managed to pull this off. I mean, we were Rzicznek-bio barely a magazine; we had a “coming soon” page online, and here we were carrying around a script by Chuck Evered and an amazing set of poems by Dan Rzicznek. Ken would occasionally break out into a half-panicked, half-excited revelation/reminder about how Connotation Press had to be good to do right by this work.  Dan sent to us some of the most tightly packed, precise poems I’ve ever read. One life is separated into many voices here, and the intensity and precision of each voice as it guides readers through an intricate tour of a brain is astonishing. I was, and am, stunned and humbled by these poems. I was nervous and excited to get to interview Dan (which is pretty much the set of emotions I get before every interview), but Dan’s answers are phenomenal. We’re truly lucky to have been able to publish Nicelle-Davis his work.

Nicelle Davis, another early contributor, constantly amazes me. She is a brilliant young writer, and she’s already shaking up the poetry scene. Since we know each other, she was reluctant to submit any work until I solicited from her—and I’m so glad I did, because now we’re lucky to have three of her poems, as well as a marvelous interview. Nicelle’s poetry is visceral, on the blurry edge between real and surreal, collapsing the idea of opposites—and her explanation of this in her interview is fascinating (and is also, I’d argue, art). Do we root for the song sparrow or the crow intent on eating it? We want to root for the Monica-Mankin sparrow, the song, the fluffball smaller than your palm, but what happens if the crow’s left hungry?

Monica Mankin gave us three stabbing poems, full of lust amid destruction, lust between the headless and heartless and dispossessed. I love fierce poetry, lines and images that stab with the honesty of strong mixed emotions. I’m not alone in thinking we don’t see enough of that in poetry these days, so I was thrilled to read and be able to publish Monica’s work. These poems bare their teeth like feral, hurt animals. And they never apologize.

Catherine-Carter We had so many wonderful early contributors. Dr. Catherine W Carter’s poem “Hole” is terrifyingly familiar and touching; her poems juxtapose day-to-day actions with the burden of being alive. Noel Pabillo Mariano’s poetry, as genuine as Noel is himself, uses crisp imagery to set scenes and convey emotions and troubles. I can still smell the thick, sweet rot of his blue oranges. Mariano-Bio-Photo

And there are more: Amanda Cobb’s varied styles, her here-and-there with big and small; Kelly Fiore’s exploration of places in order to explore people; Allen Hoey’s meditations on Ezra Pound’s grave and snow, on understanding our interactions with each little thing.

amandacobb You really shouldn’t miss Petra Whitaker’s astonishing lines and imagery and the poignant, surprising turns her poems take. You know poetry’s good when you wish over and over that you’d written that line, you’d thought of that image, and I feel that way all the way through Petra’s poems.

W.E. Butts (New Hampshire) was the first state Poet Laureate to send unsolicited work to the poetry column, and I did a little dance I was so happy. The dance continued when Kansas Poet Petra_Whitaker Laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s submission arrived soon after. These two poets WE_Butts_-Poetry are marvelous writers, and each agreed to an in-depth interview, as well. Sue Brannan Walker (Alabama) is our most recent Poet Laureate, and we have more planned for the future, so keep coming back for more!

Caryn_Mirriam-Goldberg_-_Poetry I’ll just name a few more recent additions to the poetry column, in case you missed them: check out Belline Chao’s beautiful poems, Jessy Randall and Daniel M. Shapiro’s clever (in a very good way!) collaborations; Raina J. León; Diane K. Martin; Jillian Brall; Sandy Longhorn; Claudia Serea; and Richard Krawiec.

Dear Readers, Dear Contributors, Dear Staff, thank you so much for making this journey possible. Walker