Welcome to this week’s installment of Editor’s Corner. This week we feature Lori Desrosiers, editor of Naugatuck River Review. Desrosiers is a poet whose first full-length collection of poems is now available from Salmon Poetry. You can also read Desrosiers’ work at Contemporary American Voices, where she was May 2012’s featured poet. Other poems can be found here and here. Also, be sure to check out NRR’s fifth annual narrative poetry contest. Susan Deer Cloud will judge.
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On her review, role and publishing philosophies:
Naugatuck River Review has published many styles of poetry, including prose poetry, and we are open to new ways of looking at a story. Naugatuck River Review celebrates the story, handed down for generations or inspired by a moment. We look for well-crafted poetry from poets of many traditions and backgrounds.
On the current publishing climate:
The publishing climate in which we find ourselves raises some interesting questions. Someone told me when I was in my MFA program that every great lyric poet has a drawer full of narrative poems they can’t get published. I am finding this to be somewhat true. Narrative has been a bad word in some circles, and perhaps that is why I was tempted to start this journal. The response has been excellent.
Because our poems are read blind, we can’t discriminate, though the issue of unconscious bias is fascinating. I get several of my editors together around a table to create an order for the summer issue every year, and we actually tested this about two years ago. I asked my editors to try to guess if a poem was by a man or a woman, since they still had no names on them. After we were done, I looked up the names. From what we could tell from those of our readers whose sexual identification we could guess from their names, we were wrong about 75% of the time. What does that say about unconscious bias? I’m not sure. It is, however, a matter of pride that our poets tend to be a diverse group, gay, bi and straight, cis-gendered and queer. I get to know many of the poets because we have a series of readings every year, including the readings we held this year at AWP in Boston. We had two readings at AWP, one at the book fair stage and one off-site at LIR, a bar/restaurant across the street from the conference. It was quite balanced in terms of men and women attending, and the group of readers was diverse also, especially the book fair stage reading. Our audience is usually a balanced group of men and women. Narrative poetry has a wide appeal to all cultures, sexes and age groups. I’m proud of this aspect of the journal.
I have certainly thought about the underrepresentation of women in publishing. When I see contest winner lists, I see what seems to me to be a minority of women. As a publisher and a poet myself, I am published by a woman-run press, Salmon Poetry, and find it edifying to be able to promote my journal as such.
On VIDA’s Count:
I was shocked, but not entirely surprised when I first saw the numbers from VIDA’s Count. Having grown up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, I have a deep sense of how short a time we women have had the rights to assert ourselves, and the publishing community is, despite its intelligent and literary bend, a business community. The business world has a long way to go still. I am grateful to VIDA for doing this survey. It’s great to know someone has their finger on the pulse of publishing.
On A+ Lit People:
I can certainly name a few! Salmon Poetry, Kattywompus, Mayapple Press, Alice James Books, Grey Wolf Press, Wave Books, Trio House and all the wonderful journals such as Extracts, Pirene’s Fountain, OVS, Meat for Tea and The Mom Egg, who are all creating extraordinary publications with women at the helm.
Lori Desrosiers’ first full-length book of poems, The Philosopher’s Daughter was just published in March 2013 by Salmon Poetry. Pudding House published her chapbook Three Vanities in 2009. Her poems have appeared in New Millenium Review, Contemporary American Voices, BigCityLit, Concise Delights, Blue Fifth Review, Pirene’s Fountain, The New Verse News, Common Ground Review, and many more, including a prompt in Wingbeats, a book of writing exercises from Dos Gatos Press. Her MFA in Poetry is from New England College. She is editor and publisher of Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry. Naugatuck River Review is available to order or subscribe at http://naugatuckriverreview.com. Lori Desrosiers’ book of poems, The Philosopher’s Daughter is at http://salmonpoetry.com.