We just received some exciting news from Poetry Northwest, the longest-running poetry magazine in the Pacific Northwest. There are three huge announcements, so let's tease them out in order.
First of all, longtime Poetry Northwest editor Kevin Craft is stepping down. Craft has long been a faithful ambassador, cheerleader, and ringleader of the Northwest's poetry scene. You'll find him in the stands at major poetry events around Seattle all the time, catching up with local poets and making introductions. He's also guided Poetry Northwest through a couple tough recessions and an ever-more-unsupportive culture for the arts — no mean feat. But before we get too far down the road of eulogizing Craft, let's talk about his replacement.
Or rather, replacements. The new co-editors at Poetry Northwest are Seattle poets Aaron Barrell and Erin Malone. They'll be working with managing editor Rebecca Brinbury, who has been an advocate for Seattle's literary scene as the heart and soul of the city's bid for the UNESCO City of Literature program, as the administrator for the Northwest Independent Editors Guild, and as an employee at the Hugo House and a volunteer at the Bureau for Fearless Ideas. This editorial triad is intended to echo Poetry Northwest's defining three founders — Carolyn Kizer, Richard Hugo, and Nelson Bentley. (You can see the cover of the very first issue of Poetry Northwest from 1959 over to the left of this paragraph.) We'll talk with the three new guiding forces about their plans for the magazine in coming weeks.
But Craft's not leaving town. Hell, he's not leaving Poetry Northwest. In fact, he's becoming the executive editor of a brand-new publishing imprint called Poetry NW Editions. Next year, the line will launch with Seattle poet Sierra Nelson's second collection, The Lachrymose Report. Nelson is incredibly active in the Seattle reading scene, and she has been criminally underpublished. As one of the treasures of Seattle literature, she absolutely deserves to be the point person in a brand-new publishing line.
Finally, Craft's last issue as editor of Poetry Northwest is just about to hit the stands. Among other features, it includes a host of great poets — Laura Da', Richard Kenney, J. W. Marshall, Claudia Castro Luna — and cartoonist Kelly Froh illustrating poems by Rebecca Hoogs and Rich Smith. If you've never read Poetry Northwest, this is the issue to start. It's always exciting when a long-running institution like this comes under new leadership; that balance between honoring traditions and sweeping out the institutional cobwebs is a kind of editorial highwire act. This is going to be a lot of fun to watch.