Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Friday, March 6, 2009

Poetry News and the New Media

The Poetry Foundation announced yesterday (March 5) the beginning of a major project, the first undertaken by the new Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, to consider innovative ways that might enhance the placement and promotion of poetry through elements of the new media. In recent years the well-funded Poetry Foundation—which was founded in 2003 as an evolution of the Modern Poetry Association that had been initiated in 1942—has made impressive advances in distributing poetry and engendering discussions of poetics through the use of its helpful web site, a companion to the Poetry Foundation’s publication, Poetry magazine.

In addition to posting daily news concerning poetry and making available online a vast archive of valuable poems sorted by author as well as various other categories, the Poetry Foundation web site provides podcasts, audio and video presentations by poets, reading guides for selected poems and poets, a poets’ blog, and the contents from individual issues of Poetry magazine, among other features. For many poets and readers of poetry the Poetry Foundation’s home page has been an everyday location to visit during browsing when checking the Internet for information about poetry, poets, poetics, or news and events related to the art of poetry.

The announced initiative now further fulfills an ongoing goal of the Foundation suggested in its original mission statement: “The Poetry Foundation works to raise poetry to a more visible and influential position in American culture. Rather than celebrating the status quo, the Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry. In the long term, the Foundation aspires to alter the perception that poetry is a marginal art, and to make it directly relevant to the American public.”

As mentioned on “One Poet’s Notes” a number of times in recent articles, the growth of an audience for poetry on the Internet has been significant over the past decade and continues at a rapid pace. Likewise, the number of online publications or hybrid journals, which appear in both print and electronic form, has increased dramatically in recent years. Indeed, due to economic necessity and the variety of advantages allowing for an immense potential audience, Internet presence has become something all sorts of publications have found inevitable to carrying on as vital sources for readers.

When Valparaiso Poetry Review offered its premier issue as an online poetry journal in the fall of 1999, few knew how quickly acceptance and recognition of electronic literary magazines would occur. However, as VPR prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, much has happened in terms of the larger quantity and higher quality of poetry appearing in online publications. In addition, the readership for poetry has blossomed in the new media, from online journals to podcasts to videos of poetry readings, etc.

The initial issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review appeared online in 1999 with no history and little promotion, appealing to a literary audience wary of online publications; consequently, readership the first month did not exceed five hundred viewers. In contrast, during just the first two months of 2009, the statistics for visits by readers to Valparaiso Poetry Review and the editor’s blog page, with its numerous audio and video links to readings of poetry or documentary material about poets, have counted about 50,000. Some other web sites, online journals, or literary blogs that also concentrate mostly on poetry can boast an even greater readership. Indeed, Ron Silliman’s blog, regularly containing a multitude of amazingly informative bits with news “focused on contemporary poetry and poetics,” passed the 2-million mark in total visits this past January. Even the extent of the public controversy and follow-up conversations across the country involving Elizabeth Alexander’s historic reading of poetry at President Obama’s Inauguration a couple months ago testify to the continuing interest and emotional investment many maintain for the art.

Because of the brief nature and self-contained shape of most poems, the genre seems perfectly suitable for exposure to a mass audience by electronic means through Internet publications or online readings, podcasts, and videos. Perhaps longer prose forms of nonfiction and fiction, such as the novel, are less likely to find as many readers online, although the advent of an instrument like Kindle, with its combined advantages of mobility and storage space, offers great promise as an electronic alternative for those works.

With the increased interest in poetry by readers and the greater possibility for poets to reach large audiences, domestic and worldwide, through publication online or by use of one of the other aspects of new media, this appears to be the ideal time for the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute to study the phenomenon of poetry and the new media, as well as to reexamine how the presence of poetry might be better developed in old media venues on television or radio. Additionally, I have known for a couple months that Katherine Coles (poet laureate of Utah, former head of the creative writing program at the University of Utah, and founding director of the Utah Symposium in Science and Literature) would be the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute’s director, and I am confident the start of such an important new program could not be in better hands than Kate’s.

An open letter by Coles released this week spoke of some concerns the project intends to address: “audience development; a perceived reduction of publication and distribution opportunities; the relevance of poetry in a new-media world; problems facing translators of poetry; and both the importance of education and the challenges of teaching poetry in classrooms.” Moreover, Coles reported that the Poetry in New Media project would seek to offer recommendations regarding “the preparation, distribution, and reception of poetry through new-media platforms, including not only those with which we are already familiar (radio, television, the Internet, podcasting, and so on) but also those that are now emerging and that will emerge in the future.”

In yesterday’s announcement by the Poetry Foundation, the members of a working group given the task of moving this project forward were named, and the list seems impressive, filled with very capable individuals who will help Kate and her advisors, Jaune Evans and Beth Allen, launch this initiative: Michael Collier (poet, professor, and poetry editor for Houghton Mifflin), Wyn Cooper, (poet and lyricist), Rita Dove (poet, playwright, professor, and former U.S. poet laureate), Cornelius Eady (poet, professor, playwright, and co-founder of Cave Canem), David Fenza (executive director of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs), Kate Gale (editor, writer, and founder and managing editor of Red Hen Press), Kimiko Hahn (poet and professor), Lewis Hyde (poet, essayist, professor, and MacArthur Fellow), Fiona McCrae (publisher and executive director of Graywolf Press), Robert Pinsky (poet, critic, professor, translator, editor, and former U.S. poet laureate), Claudia Rankine (poet, playwright, and professor), Alberto Ríos (poet and professor), Don Selby (co-founder of the Poetry Daily website), Rick Stevens (computer scientist and professor), Jennifer Urban (director of the Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic at the University of Southern California), and Monica Youn, (poet and counsel in the Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law). More complete biographies of the participants are available at a Poetry Foundation web page.

The project’s official statement declares: “the guiding principle of the project is the idea that securing the interests of poets and their publishers, and with them those of their audiences, is key to the successful emergence of poetry in any medium, including electronic media. Consideration of the needs of poets and their publishers, including fealty to the original sources of poems, fair remuneration, broad distribution, and accurate crediting, will be a cornerstone of this inaugural HMPI project.” The announcement released yesterday promised that the poetry panel will investigate “issues related to the distribution of poetry through new-media platforms.” The project’s participants also will be asked to “address the distinctive needs of poetry as an art form and to consider these needs in developing its recommendations about how best to bring poetry to audiences now being reached by new media. The project will concentrate not only on the current distribution of poems over the Internet but also on the evolving nature of technology and new media in order to develop recommendations that simultaneously serve varied electronic distribution platforms.”

As the editor of Valparaiso Poetry Review, I welcome this exciting exploration of possibilities for poetry on the Internet and elsewhere in the new media. I regard this as another indication that online publications and the presence of poetry evident in various forms of new media have matured, may even have come of age. I look forward to monitoring the progress of this intriguing project, following its findings, testing its conclusions, and eventually reviewing its recommendations.

Also, I believe this initiative ought not trigger negative responses by those of us who prefer the printed page and will always hold fond feelings for print publications. Although I remain a devoted reader of poetry in book form and an advocate for print journals, my opinion persists that new media may inevitably invite more readers to discover again the satisfaction attained when encountering literature in print publications, particularly small press productions, such as book-length collections of poetry.

Readers who spot appealing new and lesser-known poets online or develop interest in sample works located among the new media will most likely wish to follow-up such an introduction by ordering and inspecting a whole volume of poems. As Valparaiso Poetry Review has proclaimed on the “Submissions Guidelines and Correspondence” page since its premier issue ten years ago: “this electronic journal has been meant to serve as a complement to print issues of literary magazines and poetry collections, not as a replacement for those traditional and greatly valued publications.”


Diana Manister said...

This sounds promising, although their mission statement is pretty vague at present, don't you think?

Is "Poetry" going to publish e-poems online? Or what?

How do e-poets take advantage of Poetry's new mission?

Jeanie Thompson said...

Ed, once again you are helping those of us who might not be reading quite as much as you keep up with important developments like this. I had not seen the announcement but luckily I got a message on FB and so I'm up to date with poetry and the new media.
Your generosity to the community seems to be boundless as you report developments like this. Thanks again, Jeanie

Anonymous said...

//The Poetry Foundation announced yesterday (March 5) the beginning of a major project, the first undertaken by the new Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, to consider innovative ways that might enhance the placement and promotion of poetry through elements of the new media.//

I wish them success.

However, it says something when an "Institute" needs to remind the public (and world I suppose), that its respective genre still exists.

//the Poetry Foundation web site provides podcasts, audio and video presentations by poets, reading guides for selected poems and poets, a poets’ blog,//

I'm already doing that and having tremendous success. My own focus is on poetry written in form, meter and rhyme and I think that's the reason there's so much interest. I'll be interested to see what kinds of poems and poetry the Poetry Foundation examines.

//The Poetry Foundation works to raise poetry to a more visible and influential position in American culture.//

Again, I wish them success. They offer a fine resource but ultimately, if poetry is going to regain a wider audience, there's got to be a poet or poets who can engage readers (other than editors, critics and other poets).

//The project’s participants also will be asked to “address the distinctive needs of poetry as an art form and to consider these needs in developing its recommendations about how best to bring poetry to audiences//

I don't know... this just rubs me the wrong way but again... I wish them success. To me, it begins to sound like a Ministry of Poetry - as if poetry-by-committee will somehow re-establish the relevance of poetry.

Maggie May said...

It seems everywhere I go to read about poetry, I'm reading about how we can instill it back into society's mainstream through media- Kindle, blogs like this, chapbooks that are becoming more modern and beautiful, etc. It's a wonderful movement toward the resurgence of poetry. As a poet, I'm thrilled.

Wonderful blog.