Kevin Craft (Editor 2010 – 2016) Signs Off Most poetry readers I know chuckle wearily at the steady stream of “poetry is dead” articles that have appeared with astonishing tenacity in various venues, including The New York Times, these past few years. The authors of these articles agonize in some way or another over poetry’s irrelevance to modern culture: poetry is too abstract and obscure, they argue, too much an insider’s game, divorced from the real wants and needs (to borrow a phrase from Whitman’s early review of Keats’s poems) of actual bodies in the 21st century. But why should poetry worry over its relationship to popular culture? Must it be popular (or topical) in order to be vital, in order to sustain a reader, or fortify a readership? What happens to those who win (or live by) popularity contests in the contemporary cultural grind? We know all too well that the speed of the attention-getting news cycle is debilitating. Presidential primaries come and go, talk radio blathers on, discourse hardens, partisans lob grenades …
The next print edition of Poetry Northwest will be the spring-summer issue, due in April 2010. Until then, in addition to our regular monthly highlights from the most recent issue (see Natasha Trethewey’s “Mexico,” for instance), we are publishing new poems by poets we admire as a countdown to and preview of our back-in-Seattle debut. In January, we featured Eric McHenry’s “New Year’s Letter to All the Friends I’ve Estranged by Not Writing.” February gave us “Hall of Sea Nettles,” a new poem by Paisley Rekdal, rich in sinuous assonance and shifting, sharp-eyed imagery. You can expect to see more poems by Paisley Rekdal in the spring-summer issue to come. Now, on the threshold of our new issue, we are pleased to present Marvin Bell’s “The Book of the Dead Man (The Northwest).” The Dead Man has been a stalwart of Amercian letters since his debut in 1994. His resurrection here is sure sign that spring is upon us again. ~~~
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.
This month we feature Kevin Craft’s “New Volunteer at the Art Museum,” exclusive to Poetry Northwest Online. For the past few months we have been using this space to highlight poems from the current issue. This month we begin our new series of poems by Northwest poets exclusive to this site. We will be running this feature three times a year and begin the series with “New Volunteer at the Art Museum.”