Writing is, at heart, a solitary act. And yet, community is essential for writers in so many ways. We find a group of readers to give feedback on the early drafts. We seek out reading series and open mics, conferences and retreats. We build friendships and support networks that cross vast distances through Facebook and listservs. Recently, we asked our friends how they chose where to submit their work, and the majority of them responded that they look for venues where they feel a connection—to the editor or the other poets published. As editors, we’re very aware of the fact that neither of us would take on Verse Wisconsin alone—and if we did, what a changed and different venture it would be. Not only do we both read and discuss every single submission we receive, we consult each other on almost every detail, right down to selecting the color for the cover of each issue.
We like to think we also work with our contributors to build relationships that are meaningful. We keep in touch, sending out news and calling for submissions by email, writing personal notes as often as possible, suggesting changes or offering encouragement as we respond to submissions, and then making sure we give our writers a chance to comment or adjust the way their poems look on the page before we go to publication.
We’re also learning—and celebrating—the power of partnerships on a larger scale. This year we’ve partnered with Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf, a Madison-based program run by poet Shoshauna Shy that puts poetry in surprising places in order to find new audiences. Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf partners with organizations around the state. Verse Wisconsin and PJOS ran a joint call for submissions around the theme “Luck of the Draw.” Shoshauna read all the submissions (over 800) and selected 30 poems which now fill the Verse-O-Matic poetry vending machine, each folded into its little purple-topped capsule along with a piece of candy and—if you’re lucky—maybe a free year of Verse Wisconsin. These Luck of the Draw poems comprise our summer online poetry issue, and we’re thankful to Shoshauna for serving as guest editor. Meanwhile, the Verse-o-Matic is making its way around to various businesses and institutions in Wisconsin. It’s shiny silver and red, sits happily on a table or countertop, and vends poems and candy for free (if you’re interested in housing it for a while, or know someone who might be, contact us).
At Verse Wisconsin, we look forward to more partnerships with other organizations in the future. This fall, we’ll be working with the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, editing their Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar for 2013. Again, a selection of the calendar poems will be featured at VWOnline, in Summer 2012. More information on that project is at www.wfop.org.
To bring it back home… we partner with each of you to make Verse Wisconsin a meaningful project. Without writers sending us poems, book reviews, essays and more, there would be no magazine at all. Just as important, though not always stated, without readers, the magazine would be a futile waste of our energies. As it is now, we feel these issues of VW that arrive in your mailbox three times a year represent something much more meaningful than any single issue can contain: we’re a community of readers and writers who engage with each other, each contributing attention, time, and an open mind to what these pages contain. The magazine, larger than any one of us, changes and evolves over time. We both feel profoundly moved by this truth, as well as—yes—lucky, to be involved.
Thanks to Ramona Davis, Melissa Lindstrum, and Charles Rybak for volunteer proofreading help in the print issue. Lingering errors are, of course, the responsibility of VW’s editors, who would like to note this mistake in VW105: Rebecca Hazelton’s poems were incorrectly formatted in the print magazine, but appeared as they should online.