Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Limited Concept Makes For A Short Review Of Poetry Magazine!

The Good: Good poetry, No ads
The Bad: Expensive, Poems are hit or miss
The Basics: A monthly collection of rather random poetry, Poetry Magazine does not have a monthly narrative and is hit-or-miss on each page based on the reader!

As a writer, I have had work rejected from virtually every magazine in existence and there are very few I continue reading despite that. The most prominent magazine that I continue to read is also one of the hardest to review, Poetry Magazine. Poetry is pretty much exactly what the title indicates. This is a monthly magazine featuring poems from new and established poets in the United States and worldwide. Poetry is a publication of the Poetry Foundation and it tends to have about thirteen poets and one prose writer featured each month.

Poetry is a monthly magazine and it is about the size of the average trade paperback (just smaller than a comic book) and it tends to have a more square binding, so each issue looks very professional and very refined. The magazine has a cover price of $3.99 and it is rare to find it discounted, because the magazine is so hard to find. Because the magazine is subsidized by The Poetry Foundation and donations from patrons of the art, the hundred-page magazine is delightfully devoid of advertisements. It is also a relatively inexpensive publication in terms of production because it is printed in black and white and only the cover is glossy and in color.

Poetry is remarkably straightforward in what it is. While the magazine features letters to the editor that are usually more than just fans gushing about the magazine and the editors respond to all critiques and criticisms in an articulate and direct fashion. Poetry is what is considered a highbrow magazine and those who complain do so in an erudite and uninsulting manner.

After the Letters To The Editor, there are basically two sections in the average issue: poetry and prose. The poetry section usually features two poets delivering a portfolio of poems they have written (usually about ten). Following the two featured poets each month come award winners for whatever contest the Poetry Foundation has been running. Each of about half a dozen poets is given space to present a poem or two of their best works. After that, the poetry tends to have a variety of poets with a common theme, like this month's "travel." While there are six poets, the poetry all focuses on travel and movement.

The poetry in Poetry is erudite and often will require readers to look up a word or two (I, for example, learned what "peripatetic" means this month!). As well, Poetry tends to favor poems that feature form variations as opposed to directly expressing the concept they are trying to get across. As a result, this little magazine is surprisingly dense and readers are likely to be challenged by it; this is not the typical magazine which is written so a fourth grade student can understand it!

The issue also tends to include one prose article which explores a topic about poetry in unpoetic terms (like this month's debate on the relationship poetry has in society at large).

"Poetry" has no single narrative; instead, each poem tends to stand on its own. As a result, each issue is completely hit or miss. The advantage is that if one does not like the current poet's style, form or statement, the reader may turn the page and they get something completely different. The disadvantage is that if only one poem grabs a reader each issue, they are stuck with a lot of works from other poets they do not care for. Poetry is how poets become recognizable names in the community these days and the discriminating nature of the editors does lead to some wonderful poetry.

For other magazine reviews, please visit my takes on:
The X-Files Magazine
TV Guide
Country Woman


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© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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