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

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Online Literary Journals: Coming of Age

The current issue (May/June 2009) of Poets & Writers Magazine contains “a special section on the here and now of literary journals” devoted to information about the process of submission, editing, and publication of literary magazines. Sandra Beasley contributes a timely and insightful essay, “From Pages to Pixels: The Evolution of Online Journals,” among the articles included in the “Lit Mag Moment” feature. The piece by Beasley addresses a number of concerns I have been considering quite a bit recently, especially since the release of the Spring/Summer issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review a couple of weeks ago, which completed ten years of publication for VPR, as well as the announcement of an upcoming special tenth anniversary issue of VPR to be released in the fall, marking publication of the journal’s initial issue in the fall of 1999. (Please see the sidebar of this page for further details about the contributors to the anniversary issue.)

Much has changed since the publication of Valparaiso Poetry Review’s first issue ten years ago. At the time, the concept of an online literary journal was still fairly new and relatively untested. Reputations of existing electronic literary magazines among authors and readers were spotty at best. As Beasley indicates in her article: “Online journals were a pale imitation of print, marred by amateurish fonts, garish backgrounds, and the lack of editorial accountability.” One wondered about the wisdom of publishing material in such venues where the environment might diminish readers’ responses to the work.

Indeed, in the early issues of Valparaiso Poetry Review I was particularly grateful to those poets and critics who contributed to the journal based solely upon their confidence that I would place their works in an atmosphere reflecting literary integrity. I appreciated their trust that I also would exercise editorial judgment that would reflect well upon all the contributions included in every volume of VPR. Over the ten years of the journal’s existence, I have endeavored to honor the privilege bestowed upon me by those writers who entrusted VPR with their poetry, reviews, and essays.

Additionally, I felt a responsibility to produce an online literary journal that would attain a certain amount of respect and contribute to the slowly growing overall reputation of electronic journals due to the efforts by a number of other editors at similar journals, who also were attempting to build a community of publications that would complement the numerous excellent examples in the world of print journals. I believe most readers of fine literature have been amazed in the past decade by the growth and sophistication of online literary journals. As further evidence of an increased respect for online magazines, I have been pleased to see the contents of online literary journals now display a wide range of well-known poets and fiction writers whose presence was limited to print journals only a few years ago.

Moreover, when I glance at the acknowledgments pages of new collections of poetry, I find myself noting how many titles of online journals, including Valparaiso Poetry Review, now are represented side by side with those titles of traditional print periodicals, all of whom seem to have adopted a degree of online presence as well. Some of the most prominent print magazines, such as Poetry or The New Yorker, even exist as a type of “hybrid” journal that publishes its content online as well as in print.

As Sandra Beasley mentions in her article, authors have discovered the advantages of online publication, particularly the extensive exposure to readers worldwide. Beasley writes: “For every reader who tracks down the Kenyon Review in his local bookstore, there are ten who don’t have access, don’t have money, or need a medium they can surreptitiously read at their office desks.”

Ironically, even print journals nowadays are being encountered in an electronic format by many readers as libraries across the nation rely on databases rather than stock on their shelves the hard copies of magazines. In a previous post on “One Poet’s Notes” about this issue, “The Gateway of the Database,” I commented: “Just as I am now pleased to be able to read nearly any newspaper from all geographical regions (something impossible in the past), I also am delighted that I have access from my laptop at home to so many journals, more than my library could ever afford in individual subscriptions.”

Remarks by Mary Flinn, editor of Blackbird, quoted in Beasley’s article include one statement, attributed by Flinn to Don Lee when he was the editor of Ploughshares, reflecting an attitude widely shared by editors of literary journals: “Ploughshares was offering all of its content online because our job—as editors and publishers—was to find as large an audience as possible for the authors that we publish, and the work that we love.” Similarly, one of the guiding principles of Valparaiso Poetry Review since its inception ten years ago, as presented in the opening paragraph of the journal’s submission guidelines set in the premiere issue of VPR, always has been to offer “another opportunity for more readers to discover young or established poets whose writings deserve an even larger audience.”

When Valparaiso Poetry Review was begun in 1999, I imagined universal acceptance of online literary journals would take a number of years, and I considered the possibility that a decade might pass before electronic literary magazines would come of age. With the general recognition today, by almost all poets and most short-fiction writers, of such journals as satisfactory locations for publication, as well as the nearly universal presence of print journals in some online form, perhaps the maturation of online journals has happened just as I had hoped would occur.

Further evidence exists of a possible parity between online journals and print journals. Sandra Beasley notes in her article: “Selections from online magazines are now regularly included in the Best American Series of annual anthologies. Online editors can nominate their contributors for the Pushcart Prize. The National Endowment for the Arts permits up to half of one’s qualifying publishing credits to be from online journals.” Additionally, universities now approve of online publications alongside print journals as credentials when faculty members apply for promotion or tenure.

Consequently, as Valparaiso Poetry Review completes its ten years of publication with the current issue, and as the upcoming special tenth anniversary celebration issue is prepared for its fall release, I’m gratified by what VPR has accomplished, and I wish to express my appreciation once more to all the contributors whose works have appeared in its pages. However, I also am pleased to witness the progress made by so many fine online journals within the last decade, and I am proud Valparaiso Poetry Review exists as a part of that community.


Janette Currie said...

Your article adds to the growing awareness that the internet generation has arrived and is only going to evolve rather than disappear. What we have and are experiencing is a new industrial revolution. As with the 19C those print journals, magazines, publishers, bookshops, agents, etc who pay attention to the changes and can adapt, will do best.

By the way, I found your blog through twitter - which proves the worth of social media alone. I wished I'd known about it sooner. It looks like I've a lot of reading to catch up on.


Joseph Levens said...

Thanks for posting this. Good and encouraging article.

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