1.30.2006

I have long been interested in institutional history, not particularly because no one else is, but because I believe being aware of the structure or situation of a given organization in its founding and through time leads to some sort of understanding of the way it functions.

so to with poetry, and while my knowledge of poetry, editorial policy, money problems, organization, mission, and history, etc. is culled from various books and not from a few weeks reading archival material, because I am so interested in overlooked female writers publishing books prior to 1923, the poetry circle around Harriet Monroe is something that I suppose I would like to be important to me --

it is no secret that the fairly wealthy and cosmopolitan women poets of the Midwest who formed Monroe's mainstay, her subscribers, supporters, and many of the poets she published -- those she published much to the chagrin of Pound and then I suppose Eliot insofar as he commented -- those who read her work, instead of using her as a publisher only, were women perhaps unlike Lilly and more like Monroe in that they had somewhat less money and wrote more and better, but still. In other words, Mary Aldis, for example, who published a single (and excellent) book as far as I know was the wife of a real estate developer in Chicago who gave a fair bit of money to the journal. Alice Corbin Henderson, a long-forgotten poet, was the assistant editor, and in particular a target of Pound's ire. I could go on and develop these examples more, but --

look, Pound didn't found the magazine; he harangued Monroe, and may have solicited some of the best work poetry published, but he didn't succeed in taking the magazine and its policies over, and he needed the monetary and "publicity" support that poetry had to offer to give to his friends, et.al.; and Monroe was always a more conservative acquisitions editor and publisher, and had her eye far more on the bottom line, than the editors of many a now-defunct journal

even during the later period of the objectivist number, etc., there was an annual prize, not unlike the annual prize many journals have now, judged by the editors, and it is no secret that a lot of now-forgotten poets who were writing ghosts of sonnets won this prize, and not the experimental poets of the time

So in fact, on can argue that the Lilly gambit, the long Parisi tenure, etc. is in line with the history of the journal, and it is only in their failure to be as savvy editors and publishers, to listen, as Monroe did that has led them to publish and support "a type of poetry" -- to exclude many poetries written in English that Monroe -- and her contentious sub-editors -- were open to, eager to find and support... but what was Apple without Jobs?

and as far as "tainted money" --

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