Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Thousand Poems a Month

First Person Plural, the blog of the Writer’s Center, has had some excellent interviews with poets recently. Check out the interview with Jody Bolz, who’s a wonderful poet as well as the co-editor of Poet Lore. Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek at the editorial process:

You and E. Ethelbert Miller, your co-editor, take great pride in reading every single poem submitted to Poet Lore. How does the process work? How do you manage to read so many submissions?

Each month Ethelbert and I read close to a thousand poems on our own before getting together to make selections at our editorial meeting. We usually have a stack of 10 large manila envelopes next to Ethelbert's dining room table: each envelope contains 20 or so submissions, each submission includes about five poems. Having read all of the work beforehand, we spend the evening reading poems we're interested in aloud and discussing them. Only three or four submissions in each packet come up for that kind of close consideration.

Often one of us will champion a poem that the other didn't choose (or chose to reject!) and the process of arguing with one another is exciting and meaningful and occasionally hilarious. We've got complementary approaches, which keeps the journal's voice unpredictable and rich. We've learned from one another, as well as from the poets we publish….

Read the rest here.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.