Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us


A little over a year ago, Barbara Burns, the editor of Outlook, and I hatched a plan to create a print venue for bringing more attention to poets in the Hickory area. We thought a column, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, whatever we could manage, featuring a poem by a local writer would do the trick. It was not really a novel idea. In fact, the “poetry corner” was once a staple of locally-owned newspapers across the country. In recent years, however, that tradition seems to have fallen out of favor. That, combined with the fact that Hickory has become home to a surprising number of widely-published poets, made it seem the perfect time and location for just such a column to be reinvented.
We quickly decided on the name “Musings,” and a year ago today, the first installment of this column was published in Outlook. We decided the standard format of the column would be to include a poem and a brief biography of the poet, but we also decided to be flexible and occasionally venture into book reviews, interviews, and commentary on anything related to poetry. In fairly quick order we also expanded our scope to include poets coming to Hickory to read their work at Poetry Hickory or other local venues.
Not surprisingly to anyone who knows anything about poetry in the Hickory area, the first poet we featured in “Musings” was Tim Peeler, a native of Hickory and long-time fixture at CVCC and in the Hickory poetry community. From that beginning we’ve gone on this past year to publish 44 poems by 37 different poets ranging from NC Poet Laureate Kay Byer to local high school student, Jeni Conklin. Taken together, these poems form an impressive array of work (hmm, maybe an anthology should be in the future).
We have also featured information on events like Poetry Hickory, Aroma of Art, the Ekphrastic Poetry Event, Poetry Month, and the Women’s Resource Center Book Release Party for Voices and Vision. We have highlighted area poetry journals like Wild Goose Poetry Review and Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, local presses like Main Street Rag, vital organizations for poets like NC Poetry Society, Poetry Council of North Carolina, and NC Writer’s Network. Then, perhaps my personal favorites were the op-ed style columns on “The Top 10 Reasons for Going to a Poetry Reading,” “Why Poetry,” “Why Poetry Doesn’t Sell,” the loss of NC’s Poet Laureate, “How to Read a Poem” and other topics.
I discovered along the way that we were not as alone in this as I first thought. I found other weekly poetry columns in print, including Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry,” which is published in a large number of newspapers across the country, Bill Diskin’s “Poetryork” in York, Pennsylvania’s York Daily Record, Robert Pinsky’s “Poet’s Choice” in The Washington Post, as well as columns in The Lawrence Journal-World, The Oregonian, and England’s The Guardian. I am grateful that we are not the only ones who think such coverage of poetry is still justified.
I am also grateful to Barbara Burns, to the staff of Newton’s Observer News Enterprise, to the poets who continue to share their work with us, and of course most of all, to the readers of “Musings” and their continued understanding of the vitality of poetry today. I hope this will be the first in a long series of anniversaries to come.

1 comment: