With this issue, we begin our second year of publication at Verse Wisconsin. Appropriately, we’re celebrating by partnering with Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf (PJOS) to introduce the Verse-O-Matic poetry vending machine. With PJOS, we sponsored a contest for poems around the theme “Luck of the Draw.” The winning poems will be put into the Verse-O-Matic, available to general audiences throughout the year in a variety of venues. These poems will also appear in VWOnline this July.
We will host three “Luck of the Draw” readings this spring: Avol’s Bookstore in Madison, April 1; Boswell Books, Milwaukee, April 28; and Windhover Center, Fond du Lac, May 10. You can find more information on our Events page. The Verse-O-Matic will also come with us to WFOP’s May conference. (See wfop.org for more details!)
We’d like to welcome our new intern, Amanda Mae Brzenk. Mandy’s a creative writing student at the University of Wisconsin whose main interest right now is poetry. She’s helping with proofreading, writing a few pieces for us to use in future issues as well as some possible marketing materials, and reading with us for our current online theme, “Earthworks” (November 2011). We’re glad to have her on the team for the semester. We also send a big THANK YOU to all the volunteers who have pitched in this past year to help with proofreading both the print and the online issues. We couldn’t do it without you. Thanks to CJ Muchhala, Melissa Lindstrum, Cathryn Cofell & Alice D'Alessio for volunteer proofreading help with this issue! Lingering errors are, of course, the responsibility of VW’s editors.
Other than switching to a tri-quarterly publication schedule (March, July, November), one change you may notice is our expanded Advisory Board. Since it has become clear we won’t pursue nonprofit status at this time, we saw no reason to continue the formality of an official Board. Our former “advisors at large” are also part of this group now. These nine are the people we email when we’re looking for broad discussion around questions that arise occasionally over submission policy, financial matters, and other behind-the-scenes issues. We invite you to read all about these folks at About Us. And even better, you’ll soon be able to read some of their poems in our pages, as the advisory board members can now submit work just like anyone else. We thank each and every one of them for their help in our first year, and welcome them to the pages of Verse Wisconsin in upcoming issues. And of course, we always welcome comments, questions, and ideas from you, our readers, too!
You’ll also notice this online issue looks a little different. We have not only the VWOnline March 2011 issue we’ve been planning and preparing for months—we have a special section featuring poems that originated out of the political protests in Verse Wisconsin’s hometown, Madison.
From the beginning, we envisioned Verse Wisconsin as the poetry magazine equivalent of a town square—a vision we inherited from our foremother and advisory board member, Linda Aschbrenner. And even when the voices get a little louder, we don't want to drown out, or lose, any of them. We’re proud to feature poems from across the political spectrum on these issues, and we welcome yours. We hope to provide another public forum where people can engage each other in a civil and meaningful way.
When we issued the call for poems originally, we had no idea what we would get. A few cranks? Rants from one side or another? Silence because everyone was too busy drumming? Then the poems started coming. Good poems. Poems that have been sitting in drawers, waiting for a political venue to open up, and other poems written in a day or an hour that catch the passion of the time. At this point, we’re playing it by ear. We don’t know exactly how long we will continue to be open for submissions and to publish the poems we receive, but we believe we will keep going as long as the protests do.
Both of our families are affected by the legislation the Governor is proposing, as indeed, every family in Wisconsin will be affected. We are all connected to each other, more deeply than we sometimes remember. We find the human stories on all sides of these issues moving and our hope is that we all can find ways to sit down together and talk, to find solutions by working together. Wherever each of us falls on the political spectrum, it can't hurt to keep sharing our stories.