Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Good, the Really Good, the Unwanteds and the Ugly

It occurs to me that there are just two dozen days left for poets to submit for our Fifteenth Anniversary Issue—a thought that leads me (again) back in time—back over a dozen plus years of editing and publishing the Aurorean.

I recall the assembly line on our kitchen counter as we printed out, collated and stapled our first issue. Things got ugly when my husband sliced his hand with an X-Acto knife while trimming covers. He says he still has the scar. But things were good again when (once he was bandaged up), all the debut journals were collated, folded, and stapled together.

I was so proud of my little magazine (which is what my mother called it—not a huge fan of poetry, she was just proud that her daughter had her own "little magazine" and she kept each successive issue on her bureau until her death in 1999). I loved the clip art and even the gray paper we chose for the first cover. I was overjoyed to mail that first issue to its thirteen contributors and our two subscribers (mind you, most of the contributors were either friends/writers or fellow Creative Writing students).

I have always been proud of my little magazine. I can look back, and see where improvement needed to be made. I can shake my head at my own naiveté. But each step, each issue, each poem I read, each poet we have published, has helped to make it what it is today. And it steadily did improve. The quality of poetry could only improve as I learned more about poetry, as more poets learned of the Aurorean, and as its reputation grew. We were lucky to be feautre-profiled in Poet's Market four years into our journey. Lucky, because the word was getting out.

That high led to some of the unwanteds that come with being more well-known. Those include receiving KKK-propoganda poetry (a KKK acrostic, no less; I didn't want to believe it was what it was so I asked my then Creative Writing professor to look at it, and she said, "of course it is! Why would you think it isn't? Look at all those K's going down the left-hand side!"), being threatened because I wouldn't publish another poet, having yet another poet cancel her subscription because (I paraphrase) her poetry was just as good as anyone's in the journal, yet I had rejected hers.

And here we are this very day, a short time before deadline on a milestone issue. No hate poetry in the mail today, no threatening letters. Instead, some very hopeful-looking submissions, an order for the next issue, a bio and a very kind letter from a poet whose poetry we have accepted, among other items. It's a really good day.


  1. You were my first home for my work and I hope to continue being a contributor and reader.
    How wonderful to read your thoughts here. Your editor's letter is the first thing I read when I get my new issues in the mail. Now with the blog, I hope to get that more often.
    Congratulations on the new blog!


  2. Thanks for the kind words, Bridgette...we are always excited to publish poets for the first time, and it's very rewarding to continue a relationship with them as the years go by. We have met so many friends on our path, and are blessed that you chose to send your work our way.

  3. Cynthia,congratulations on your new blog!
    It's wonderfully well written and brings me into the experience of how hopeful beginnings (with A LOT of work)transform into fifteen years of well deserved success.
    Looking forward to many more!
    Thank you for the privilege of being one of your friends and poets.

  4. Second attempt to add a comment...
    Congratulations on the blog, and on 15 years of The Aurorean. I enjoyed reading the story of how the journal came into being, and appreciated the reminder about the up-coming submission deadline. Hope to get my poems off this week!:)
    I loved the spring issue...and was honored to be included. All the best,
    Barbara Feehrer

  5. Thank-you, Natalia and Barbara!

    Your phrase "hopeful beginnings" says a lot, Natalia...whether it's creating a poetry journal, or sending one's work out for publication.

    Barbara, we look forward to receiving your new work!