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The Word Wader
In March 2017, the Canadian author and editor rob mclennan (lower-case intentional) pinged me and asked if I would contribute to his "Tuesday poem" series. Before I said 'yes,' I did what most Millennials do when we don't know something: I Googled it. After learning a bit more about the series, I gave the go-ahead. My poem was #228 in the series and ran August 15, 2017. And now so that you, too, may learn of the "Tuesday poem" series and follow it as religiously as I do, here's a Q&A with mclennan himself:
Could you explain what the series is?
The “Tuesday poem” series is a weekly poetry series I curate over at the Dusie blog. The blog is an offshoot of the online poetry journal Dusie, founded and edited by American poet Susana Gardner, as a way to interact with a community of poets while she was living in Switzerland. Another offshoot of the journal have been the chapbook exchanges known as the dusie kollektiv, which involve a group of poets self-publishing and exchanging chapbooks, all of which would appear as free pfds online at the Dusie site.
In the “Tuesday poem” series, a single post (usually a single poem by a particular author, but occasionally a couple of poems) appears online every Tuesday morning Ottawa time; or, as the Swiss might be aware of it, every Tuesday, just after lunch. Once the post is live, I email the link out to a list that anyone can sign up for here.
How long have you been running it?
The first poem posted on April 9, 2013. A poem by Denver, Colorado poet Elizabeth Robinson. I’ve already poems posting as far ahead as September 2019. Once spring comes, I’ll work to finalize the list for 2019.
What inspired you to do it?
I don’t precisely recall. I do remember Dusie-maven Susana Gardner was thinking out loud on the dusie listserve on ways to invigorate the blog. I thought a weekly poetry series might be fun, and something I could do to bring traffic to her site. I’m pretty sure I just pitched her the idea, she said yes, and I went from there. My original curatorial thesis existed in thirds: a third Dusie-poets (which were predominantly American, but included others living in the UK and parts of Europe), a third Canadian poets, and a third “other.”
How do you curate the poems?
The bulk of the entries are solicited, and this emerges from my own reading, reviewing and other editorial schemes (I’ve been a chapbook editor/publisher for 25+ years, and have edited multiple other online and book-length projects since). So far, there haven’t been any repeated authors (but for one, accidentally). If there is a poet I think is doing something interesting, I add their name to a list of as-yet-unsolicited, that I go back to when I’m starting to think about the next round of solicitations.
Twice a year, I spend about three months soliciting, receiving, selecting and posting poems for a six month stretch of the blog (I curate in half-years, basically). Part of the entertainment of the selection is in attempting to curate a wide range of styles, geographies and experience, putting an established poet from one country immediately following an emerging poet from another. I would hope that, if nothing else, I am introducing poets to each other.
What do you think is the value of curating poetry?
When I pick up a journal such as FENCE magazine or The Capilano Review (two of my favorite journals these days), I’m engaging new issues with the expectation that the editors are selecting work that they stand behind. I’ve read both journals long enough that I trust the judgement of those editors, and are willing to see the process through, even if I might not be moved by every single piece. I would hope that the value of my curation means that the readers of the series don’t have to wade through the unselected to get to the poems within that might have otherwise been missed. I want to see what is out there, and I am willing to search it out. Not everyone has the time nor the inclination for that. I, for one, appreciate very much the curation that journals such as FENCE and The Capilano Review do, managing to spotlight authors and elements that wouldn’t have been on my radar as easily, or otherwise.
Could you send me three poems from the newsletter that have really stood out to you?
Three recent highlights:
Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012 and 2017. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. His most recent titles include the poetry collections How the alphabet was made (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018) and the forthcoming Household items (Salmon Poetry, 2019) and A halt, which is empty (Mansfield Press, 2019). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics (ottawater.com/seventeenseconds), Touch the Donkey (touchthedonkey.blogspot.com) and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater (ottawater.com). He is “Interviews Editor” at Queen Mob’s Teahouse, editor of my (small press) writing day, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at robmclennan.blogspot.com
Our go-to spell: Art + Ideas = Magic.
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