5 jun. 2005

I've been continuing to readThe Canary # 4. One sign of a well-edited journal is that the poems by lesser known poets are as good or better than those of the "famous-to-a-few" poets. I was looking forward to work by some of my favorites, like Howe, Nakayasu, Schultz, Jarnot. These did not disappoint, but many of my favorites in this issue are by poets I didn't know as well. David Trinidad's long but absolutely devastating pantoum, for example. I liked Danielle Pafunda's "Small Town Rocker" a lot. It's like a classic "New Yorker story" with all the extraneous material cut away. I was glad of this because I hadn't liked her poem in the Best American Poetry very much. Devin Johnston comes through strong in two poems. I can't help seeing a Ronald Johnson connection, since Devin runs Flood Editions which publishes Johnson. Another favorite: Jess Mynes' "November." I tend to like lean, spare styles like those of Johnston or Mynes. Paul Naylor is someone I've never heard of before, and his poetry in this issue is also very good.

8 comentarios:

Gary Norris dijo...

For a journal to be good, the poems must be good at least as good.

As you know, I am getting ready to put together my first chapbook. The first four volumes on my press I have decided to print as a journal series called The Emotional Rescue Series. As a virtual unknown and with little cash money, I would have heart attack editing the series with your double criteria for goodness.

I have decided to publish most of what was sent to me in the first volume. Some works aren't quite "there" yet, as always happens with submissions, but I do have the opportunity to publish work of varying quality.

And why not? What would it say about the quality of my four-volume series if I opened-up the editing process a bit--purposefully dropped the "reader's judment" bit?

I think your point the other day about MFA readers as screeners is great. But I think that applies double for PhD readers, many of whom (in my experience) have simply turned their MFA notions into unconscious habits.

We all know an author who has had a story or poem rejected at a journal in January only to have it accepted in November, often by the same readers.

So why should I, reading all subs say to you and other authors, I have determined that what is in this issue of The Emotional Rescue Series represents the good of what was available? I'd rather say: here's what I could afford to print from the bulk of what I received. Make the reading a free-er process.

I don't know, what do you think?

Gary Norris dijo...

I meant to write, in the first line above--at least as good as all the others.

In other words, a hierarchy must exist for the poems in a good journal. The least of the poems are good, and all the others are better, and a few are the best; but certainly all are good.

Tough to qualify as a good journal.

Jonathan dijo...


I think I meant something much simpler. Not that all the poems in a given journal are "good," but that there is certain DEPTH. Not just a few expectedly good poems by "name" poets and the rest by buddies of the editors.

For your emotional rescue series I would expect that there are "thematic" considerations too. There could be an excellent poem that's maybe not "angry" enough for the angry issue. Isn't editing not a matter of choosing the "best," but of making a magazine or chapbook that will be itself a work of creative editing?

Gary Norris dijo...

oh, don't remind me...

ha. you're right.

Charles dijo...

David Trinidad's work is really wonderful. I would encourage you to read some of his books, especially Plasticville and Answer Song.

Jonathan dijo...


Yes, I do intend to check him out .

Aaron Tieger dijo...

Props to you for the props to Jess Mynes. He is one to watch, heading for #1 w/a bullet.

shanna dijo...

Soft Skull poetry alerts: Danielle Pafunda's Pretty Young Thing comes out this fall--with more of what you like in that poem, promise promise. And we've got a collaboration anthology on board edited by David Trinidad, Maureen Seaton & Denise Duhamel called Saints of Hysteria. That one will be 2006!