Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rick Cannon and Barbara Goldberg on Poet Lore

So we come to the end of Poet Lore week on First Person Plural. Tomorrow, remember, is Poet Lore's 120th Anniversary birthday party. If you can make it, we'd love to see you there! If not, enjoy this final trip down memory lane with Rick Cannon:

I learned so much in my half dozen years as an editor of Poet Lore!

I learned that there are hundreds and hundreds of folks like me ably engaged in this beautiful art. It was humbling. I learned that not consistently producing quality myself didn't mean I couldn't recognize it much of the time and that bringing others to the fore has a joy of its own. I learned more precisely what makes a poem good yet that good poetry defies all but the broadest descriptors. And finally I learned that editing is hard work and that I can't do it, teach, and write at the same time.

I felt both the honor of editing such a fine publication and the pleasure that comes from giving a gift. Too, editing, unlike writing, was a social thing. The meetings were so nice.

Those spirits of us, at least, which loved poetry loved each other.

All of these things made my experience at Poet Lore rich and memorable.

And Barbara Goldberg:

I edited Poet Lore with the indefatigable Phil Jason for about three years. We were on the lookout for unusual, quirky poems by unsung poets. I think I can speak for all the editors about what came our way – millions and millions and millions of poems and millions and millions and millions of poets! So many poets with impressive publication histories, so much unremarkable work. Still, I opened each envelop with high hopes. Occupational hazard? System overload – the fear that the adequate will drown out the excellent. It called for reading with fresh eyes and a clear mind. I certainly have more sympathy now for editors! But I do remember the thrill in finding a gem, the real thing. Later, Phil, Roland Flint, and I edited an anthology of the best of Poet Lore: The Open Door, an arduous endeavor. Lots of pizza. Lots of laughs. Shall always treasure my time with PL.

About Rick Cannon:
Rick Cannon has taught English for 36 years, the last 34 at Gonzaga College High School. He's a graduate of Georgetown University and the Writers' Workshop at The University of Iowa. He's published two chapbooks with one forthcoming, his more salient publications being marriage--a forty year serial--and five children (contributing to three--and counting--grand-ones).

About Barbara Goldberg: Barbara Goldberg won the 2008 Felix Pollak Poetry Prize for The Royal Baker’s Daughter, published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Other prize-winning books include Berta Broadfoot and Pepin the Short, Cautionary Tales, and Marvelous Pursuits. She also co-edited and translated poems in After the First Rain: Israeli Poems on War and Peace (Syracuse University Press) and The Fire Stays in Red: Poems by Ronny Someck (University of Wisconsin Press). Poems have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, and The Gettysburg Review. Goldberg has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as national awards in fiction, feature writing and speechwriting. Goldberg, senior speechwriter at AARP, has taught speechwriting, poetry and translation at Georgetown University and at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

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