So, it’s week 6 of the semester and the crazy community of editors and board members, whom work for the Columbia Poetry Review are finally meshing. The process of poetry selection is often of heated debate, where a rigorous rhetoric is defined and encouraged. In week 1, we might try and defend a poem purely based on personal interest, such as this poem made me laugh. However, by week 6 we have hit a collective mind think or organic vision of the journal. As a community that has engaged in such in-depth discourse, we have subconsciously formed an unknowing statement of poetics for the next issue we will publish.
And I want to point out that we certainly do publish the poems that make us laugh, but the rhetoric used to defend the poem becomes much more complex than a simple assertion of feelings. Graduate MFA student Cameron Decker has a piece in last issue that starts out like this:
I read a lot of poetry on the toilet.
It’s a good place
for perusing the universe .
And so stylistically, we tend to look for poetry that catches our attention right away. If a writer can’t pull us into the poem with their first three lines, the chance we will read the entire poem becomes less likely. After all, we are reading over two hundred pages of cover letters and poetry each week.
But what the above poem does is it makes us a promise to “peruse the universe,” but from a place of familiarity and also juxtaposition to expectation from the normal. How often does one consider the bathroom as a place of great discovery? And so, if any of you have seen “The Clues to a Great Story,” a Ted Talks, by Andrew Stanton, you will realize how important that promise is to a work of art. It is the “slingshot,” the propelling factor that motivates us as an audience and demands our curiosity—Ignites us, as David Trinidad says, To die on a hill, for a poem we love.
Working for the Columbia Poetry Review is an amazing experience, and an opportunity of a lifetime. It provides us with a chance to learn how to critically read and respond to modern day poetry. Another part of working for the journal, are the different roles involved. Myself, and Evan Kleekamp, a first year MFA poetry student, are in charge of redesigning and editing the Columbia Poetry Review Blog. A part of that process is attending local events and blogging about the experience.
Last week Lee Ann Roripaugh and Tony Trigilio read at Stage Two as a part of Columbia College Chicago Reading Series.
A video of Lee Ann Roripaugh reading.