Dear Sir: As two women volunteers who work long hours unofficially and for free outside of institutional support, either through funded grants or titled academia, we’re very used to being listed “second,” or even not at all, in people’s assessments. As poets and scholars, we’re used to being underestimated due to our gender, subject matter and approach. As someone who has no knowledge of our record, or our writing, and who probably hasn’t bothered much to look it up anywhere or seek it out, why should it offend us if you underestimate and misunderstand our project, our attitude, our expertise and our possible contributions to any partnership with you? Our egos would have to be delicate indeed if that were to discourage us from the work we do.
Sarah wrote that to Wendy recently, to get it off her chest without exploding at the “sir” in question this time (another reason it’s good to edit with another person). To which, Wendy responded, “uh-huh.” As Sarah noted, our egos may not be delicate, but our boundaries have needed constant defending. Sadly, we could have written it multiple times over the last few years, at any which moment it would have been appropriate to some interaction or other we were involved in at the time. Maybe that’s not unexpected. We’ve tried something here at VW admittedly unusual: a journal which crossed boundaries in all kinds of ways: print and online, intellectually rigorous and community based, small-town friendly with a wider scope. We know we’re not “prestigious,” and we publish each issue with just enough in the bank to publish the next, but those truths have given us the freedom to experiment. With this issue, we turn the focus to “Women and Publishing.”
Appropriately, we celebrate two of the godmothers of Wisconsin poetry, our first state Laureate, Ellen Kort, and Phyllis Walsh, the founding editor of Hummingbird. We also explore, in the online issue, the question of women writers and this relatively new form of publishing known as blogging, and we open up a little more about our own experiences as writers, as publishers, and as women trying to balance these activities with our own lives in a collaborative essay, “EveryMom: How and Why to Support Wisconsin Writers.” As we’ve said before, the opportunity to edit VW was a gift from that other figure fundamental to Wisconsin poets, Linda Aschbrenner; making VW a product of our own vision has been invaluable to both of us in our growth as writers, activists and thinkers.
So this seems an appropriate moment to officially announce our plans to exit gracefully from the stage in a few more issues. When we took on this adventure, we said from the outset to ourselves and our Advisory Board that we’d give it five years. As we have moved through the seasons and issues, that has remained our constant plan. We’ll have a good run, we hope, through the end of 2014. And then we’ll be…done. Of course, we’ll still publish poetry through Cowfeather Press, and we want to remain involved in multiple ways in the cultural life of the state. But Verse Wisconsin, as we’ve brought it into the world, will cease. And that’s not a bad thing. Nature abhors a vacuum, after all, and we’re confident other projects, and possibly other editors of this magazine, or some version of it, will emerge to give new voice and vision to Wisconsin’s poets and those of you who have been part of the VW family from further abroad. We hope and expect new experiments and new definitions. We’re looking forward to seeing what happens next.
In every issue, we have tried to remain true to our core beliefs: that great writing can emerge from any community, any place, any kitchen, any office, at any time, and that we all need to stay open to hear it. That our connections and conversations should be nurtured and appreciated. And it needs to be stated that you all have backed us up in this and proven what we only theorized at first. We’ll repeat this often over the remaining issues, but we can’t say it enough: thank you to you all, for your poems, your articles and reviews. For your subscriptions and donations. For the ideas, the comments, the complaints and the enthusiasms you have shared with us. We hope you will continue to share all of these through the coming seasons. After all, we’re not done yet—we have three more issues to go, and we’re full of ideas!
Thanks to Alice D'Alessio, Ramona Davis, and CJ Muchhala for volunteer proofreading help. Lingering errors are, of course, the responsibility of VW’s editors.