I just finished writing a paper on Poets & Writers for my journals class, and it’s hard to believe that the magazine has been around for over 20 years now. If you have never picked up this magazine or visited the website (www.pw.org), then please don’t wait too long to do so. Poets & Writers is a nonprofit organization that was started in 1970 as a resource for writers, and it has never swayed from its original mission. Throughout the years P&W has given thousands of dollars to writers to conduct workshops or hold readings through their Readings/Workshops program. They also sponsor the Jackson Poetry Prize, and the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. Whether you are just starting out or you have published several books, you can appreciate what this organization and its publication has to offer.
I was introduced to the magazine when it was still in its infancy by none other than my best friend Mari. The format hasn’t changed all that much. It still features a profile on a literary figures as its lead story, and then other stories related to the craft of writing, whether they be interviews, how-tos, or a feature on trends in the industry. You’ll always find lots and lots of information on grants, writing retreats and colonies, MFA programs, calls for papers, manuscripts, submissions, etc., and the classified section is a veritable treasure-trove of information. Published bi-monthly, the subscription is very affordable, even for those on a limited budget, and if you cannot afford to subscribe, you can read the online version, which has its own content.
If it sounds as if I am a big fan, I am. I used to go through with my pink highlighter and carefully circle all of the retreats that I wanted to go to, and all of the deadlines that I wanted to try to get submissions into, and then I would just as carelessly procrastinate until all of the dates passed me by. It was a game that I played with myself, and I played it very well. Some of you may already be familiar with this game. I believe that it even has some sort of name, something like “fear of success/fear of failure.” Anyway, this went on for a number of years, for as long as I taught at ODU, and then when I stopped teaching, I stopped reading Poets & Writers Magazine. I mean, what was the point? I was never going to be published anyway.
Then the really ironic thing was that I began to write in earnest for the museum and to have my articles published in their journal, but it wasn’t my poetry. Life’s funny that way; isn’t it?
A few years ago, I started to read Poets & Writers Magazine again, and it was as if I had become reacquainted with an old friend, only this one had aged very well. Stylistically, the old black and white newsletter format on white paper had progressed to a nice coated stock, perfect bound. But the content was still there. The prizes were still there, and a few new ones too. It’s nice that you can come home again to some things.
Anyway, as I said, if you’ve never sat down with a copy, go to Barnes & Noble, and buy one this weekend. Make yourself a nice cuppa tea, and peruse the pages. Don’t forget to have a highlighter nearby, just in case. You never know what you might find between the pages . . .