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If the subscription list of this magazine approximated the yearly inflow of manuscripts – the editors would hire a long string of assistants, have cut flowers replenished daily on their desks, and be less harassed generally. Even then, however, the impossibility of answering personally each letter that reaches the office would be equally manifest. What is one to do about such a condition? Those sentences were not written by any living editor of a literary magazine, nor ever blogged (except by me), but were written by Alice Corbin Henderson and published in Poetry – way back in July 1916. You... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
Thank you so much, Jenny and David! I say "sure"a lot, too - is it vanishing, though? (Then again, I often say "okie dokie," which I think Delmore seldom did. And I've been known to say "soitenly," alluding to another great American wordsmith, but that's a whole 'nuther story.) Cheers to you both!
Thanks for your comments, everyone. I've read each of them with great interest and much appreciation. I'm grateful to all of you for reading and thinking about my reflections.
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An alien crowd of nurses, residents, attending physicians, and machines and carts careened and hummed everywhere around his wife. If she had needed her husband during her labor, if she had hopes of counting on him, well, as usual, he was completely useless. Oh, he’d taken the birthing classes, worried himself crazy, and had tried to be attentive for months. It was no use. In the end, apart from a few ice chips he fed her on cue, she was on her own again, struggling with absolute physical and spiritual courage, getting things done because nobody else was going to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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It wasn't pretty. The decision was made by people who probably didn't read or look at it. It had been around for decades, surviving literary, cultural, cold, and military wars. It was killed by university administrators. The deciders aren't even there anymore. And I never hear its name mentioned nowadays. Yet for almost seventy years, Partisan Review was one of the nation's most important literary magazines, and the fresh-faced fellow pictured above had, somewhat improbably, become its poetry editor, following in the footsteps of such folks as Delmore Schwartz and Rosanna Warren. That fellow was me. When the magazine was... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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I've been amused - bemused, more accurately - by the continuing discussion, among American poets, of an apparent "glut" of poetry. Poetry must be one of the very few things Americans feel there is too much of, but there are days when I sympathize with the argument, however nebulous, that there are too many poets, too many poems. That's only because for the past few years I've been blessed with a job in which I am entrusted to read many thousands of newly-written poems. At Poetry magazine, we now get about 120,000 individual poems to read in a year's time.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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I'm going to begin the week by reprising a piece a version of which I once ran on my own blog; it's the best opening salvo I can think of for a few days of rumination. In the days to come, I'll muse on such subjects as secrets of the editing trade, favorite words, what the heck is going on at Poetry magazine (or maybe not!). But I find myself repeating the substance of what follows in many conversations, so I hope you'll forgive me for kicking off with it now. * You see the phrase, “poetry makes nothing happen”... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2013 at The Best American Poetry