Essays, Features

A Word from the Editor

January 2010

This month, Poetry Northwest enters its 51st year. We are fortunate to be among a very few literary magazines with such endurance and community support. As many readers will know, for most of that half century, the magazine was published in Seattle, at the University of Washington, under the guidance (and often, pure stamina) of longtime editor David Wagoner.

After running into financial difficulties early in the new millennium and suffering a brief period of dormancy, the magazine was revived in Portland, Oregon, at the Attic Writers’ Workshop, in the hands of David Biespiel, who gave it a new look and lease on life. For five years he and his staff worked hard to rebuild the subscription base and set the magazine on a solid foundation. They also turned it into an elegantly readable glossy that, while introducing critical reviews and other prose concerning poetry and poetics into substantially wider pages, still gave poems pride of place, with a little more room around the margins, more breathing space.

Sometimes a little captive wandering is just what an established tradition needs.

Now the magazine returns to the Seattle area—I won’t say from its Babylonian exile, because we have sturdy roots and wonderful readers in Portland from whom we will continue to seek support and draw inspiration. But still, it is a homecoming of sorts, this circling back to the city in which the magazine was born and brought forth by the likes of Errol Pritchard, Carolyn Kizer, and Richard Hugo, to name a few. It is my great honor and privilege to step into this marvelous, enduring enterprise and guide it through its next incarnation.

Poetry Northwest will be published at Everett Community College as an integral part of our dynamic and longstanding Written Arts program. But it will continue to belong to communities of readers across the northwest, from Anchorage to Eureka, and well beyond that, where it has always lived and thrived, in the hearts of readers around the country and the world.

So let’s get started. In addition to our regular monthly web feature, we’ll highlight, in this space, a brand new poem by a poet we admire. This month, we’re featuring Eric McHenry’s “New Year’s Letter to All the Friends I’ve Estranged by Not Writing.” And to all our friends, we say thanks for your continuing enthusiasm and generous support. Rest assured, you have the right address for Poetry Northwest.

Kevin Craft