Tony Fischer, "ee cummings bench" (via Tony Fischer's Flickrstream)

Tony Fischer, “ee cummings bench” (via Tony Fischer’s Flickrstream)

This Saturday we will be kicking off the Hyperallergic Poetry Reading Series at 7:30pm at Berl’s Poetry Book Shop in Dumbo (RSVP on Facebook) with readers Joanna Fuhrman, Dan Magers, Debora Kuan, and Ana Božičević. Please come join us at Berl’s (126A Front Street)!

Berl's Poetry Shop in Dumbo, Brooklyn (image via Brownstoner)

Berl’s Poetry Shop in Dumbo, Brooklyn (image via Brownstoner)

The plan is to host several of these events a year in an effort to promote not only the poets we’ve published at Hyperallergic, but to further explore the notion of a unified artistic community that Hrag and I first discussed before I took the job as Poetry Editor almost two years ago.

Having never done so, I’d like to speak briefly, a bit off the cuff, to this idea of artistic community, and talk a little about the reading series and my role as an editor.

I’ve always been enamored with the aura of big city art scenes: reading about Berlin and Paris in the ’20s, New York in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s — dynamic clusters of intellectuals and creative types (not mutually exclusive) congregating in order to share ideas, adopt and mutate each others’ theories, pouring over each others’ work, to excoriate or champion or steal from, or merely engage in that sort of banter we often mistake for judgement, or worse, high criticism … emotional thinkers shuffling each other into the next vanguard with earnestness and a sense of meliorism and delight … I’ll admit, it’s starry-eyed, but to a kid from a backwater Florida swamp town, the dream served to ferment ambition. That people from such varied backgrounds and schools of thought, fields of study even, could come together and sculpt an ethos, an era, out of what seemed like essential differences, lent me a map to chart a certain kind of human progress. Ideas could leap between media and contexts, and artists felt it necessary to respond to each other! It’s easy to understand why de Kooning might seek out Frank O’Hara at the Cedar Street Tavern to discuss a painting he was working on, or why CP Snow would call for the cross-pollination of arts and sciences, because it’s important for arbiters of culture to investigate the various lenses being used by their contemporaries in pursuit of their own highly personal — but open, being cosmopolitan — investigations.

A sense of camaraderie often develops around ideas and a sense of place. In 2010 I had only just recently founded Brooklyn Arts Press, with a few poetry books and two art monographs under my belt. I’d begun following the early blog posts of Hyperallergic and decided to send Hrag and Veken a book for possible review; the review was posted, and later Hrag ended up interviewing me for a piece he wrote about the spate of new independent publishers popping up around Brooklyn. We ended up having lunch and discussing what the future might hold, as Williamsburg was basically being razed and a new craziness erected in its stead. I talked about wanting to expand my efforts to publish lyrical fiction, poetry/art books, and hybrid works, while he spoke about expanding his magazine to include writing with broader scope, a website devoted to all art forms, across the board. We shared a desire to provide places of coexistence and interplay across genres, across media platforms, yet not feel ourselves beholden to camp or aesthetic; we wanted that open dialogue and the criticism that came with it. Soon after those conversations, Hrag invited me to join the team as Poetry Editor.

My initial goal was to build a solid foundation of talented, interesting emerging poets whose work would play well to a savvy Hyperallergic audience. Foremost, I wanted to publish good poetry, but also poetry of different types, techniques, methodologies, styles — there’s no way to offer readers the full range contemporary poetry has to offer, being in perhaps a golden era, certainly a prolific one — to follow up the publication of, say, an elliptical lyrical poem one month with a teasing, formal, music-heavy ode, then a peppy, fun internal narrative — poems that I describe here shortly, but which actually defy easy definition. I did well I think to intimate the breadth of what is out there, and hopefully led to some readers following up with their own investigations. And now that we are opening our doors to submissions (see below) I can only imagine the aesthetic range will broaden, making it more likely a poem of a certain spirit connects with a certain reader at a certain time.

Hyperallergic is a rare place where art, criticism, and journalism come together, where ideas populate and suddenly give way to casual usurpation. The actual stacking of one article on top of another, visually, creates a sense of equality, before the “likes” and the shares and the comments section perform their own bit of editorializing. This is how an archive flourishes as a living idea, to be read and re-established via comments in perpetuity. I’m happy to be contributing whatever I can to this active mode. Also, the poetry published on-site is only a small portion of the coverage poetry gets on Hyperallergic — John Yau, Allison Meier, Morten Høi Jensen, Albert Mobilio, Barry Schwabsky, and others do a tremendous job at providing in-depth reports from the field. People I meet comment about this often, and I feel very fortunate to be able to provide an extra facet to the overall presence of this particular art form.

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A quick note: prompted by the many queries we’ve received, we are announcing the opening of our doors to unsolicited poetry submissions. Authors can send 3–5 poems, with a cover letter, in a single Word doc or PDF to Joe Pan at poetry [at] Response time can range between 3–6 months, given the expected volume, so please be patient with us.

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