Joseph Parisi comments on the
85th anniversary of POETRY:
When Harriet Monroe founded Poetry Magazine in Chicago in 1912, it was the first monthly devoted solely to poetry, and few people expected the publication to see its first birthday. But this October, Poetry celebrates its 85th anniversary of uninterrupted monthly publication an unmatched record among literary journals. To help mark this historic occasion, the Magazine will publish a special double issue featuring new work by A. R. Ammons, John Ashbery, Rita Dove, Seamus Heaney, W. S. Merwin, Sharon Olds, Charles Wright, and over 80 other well-known contemporary poets, many of whom were first introduced to wider audiences in Poetry's pages.
Poetry occupies a special place in the hearts of poets. According to a recent Writer's Digest survey, poets ranked the Magazine "number 1" of the publications they like to see their bylines in. Many contributors to the special issue sent happy birthday wishes along with their submissions. Edward Hirsch wrote: "How remarkable I mean truly remarkable that you are going to be reaching the 85th anniversary of the founding of Poetry. And how astonishing that you will be hitting 1,020 issues. Wild congratulations!" Grace Schulman offered an historical anecdote: "In 1932, Marianne Moore was asked for a poem ('not necessarily long,' she told her brother) for Poetry's 20th Anniversary Issue, to appear that October. Depressed by the possible impending cessation of Poetry, which she thought might last only through the winter, she wrote, 'No Swan So Fine,' about the china swan that would outlast even its lordly owners. That poem became one of her best, and Poetry, of course, lived on. I'm glad that Poetry is alive and well, and still telling poets that art is imperishable. May you live on for centuries!"
We trust that as long as poets continue to submit their strongest work to Poetry, and poetry lovers worldwide continue to read the magazine, it will remain the journal where one turns to find, as Stephen Spender has said, "the best, simply the best poetry being written."
Copyright © 1997 by the Modern Poetry Association.