Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry & Translation

Magazines & Presses

Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry & Translation

Page Delano, Cheryl Fish, Halima Gutman, Emmy Hunter, Benjamin Sloan, Tod Thilleman, Robert Thomson, Robert Timm, Gyorgi Voros, Burt Kimmelman, and others
New York

Nos. 1–12 (1985–2001).

Subtitle “A Journal of Poetry & Translation” begins with no. 2 and varies slightly throughout.

Poetry New York [1] (1985).

Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry and Translation grew out of a creative writing workshop being held at the CUNY Graduate Center in the mid-1980s, when I was a doctoral student there. William Elton, a Shakespearean scholar, composed poetry from time to time; he started the workshop then. Soon he got the idea to start a poetry magazine. In naming it what he did, he was not thinking of Poetry New York: A Magazine of Verse and Criticism—famous for having published Charles Olson’s game-changing essay “Projective Verse,” in 1950. Our magazine was meant, in Bill’s conception, to rival Poetry Chicago and other “Poetry [Name of Place]” journals.

Our first issue appeared in 1985. Our intention was that Poetry New York (PNY) would be an annual. It came out more or less yearly, for twelve issues, ending in 2001. Having worked on the magazine’s inaugural issue, I became its coeditor for the second number; after that I served as the editor, for a couple of issues, then as the senior editor until the tent folded. Coeditors included, variously: Page Delano, Cheryl Fish, Halima Gutman, Emmy Hunter, Benjamin Sloan, Tod Thilleman, Robert Thomson, Robert Timm, Gyorgi Voros, and others.

PNY featured, along with poets and translators still trying to make their mark, a great many bright lights.

Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry & Translation 2 (1988). Cover photograph by Star Black.

We also featured compelling artwork. Equally notable, PNY became a destination for translations. Our editorial policy was skewed toward publishing more than the occasional translation, perhaps because we originated within a doctoral program—our thought being that translators did not get as much opportunity to publish as did mere poets, and translation was also a scholarly endeavor. So translators had us in their sights.

PNY didn’t set a pace. It was not especially the nexus of any conversation; after all, we were an annual. Nevertheless, we were involved in the conversations of the day, and poets were glad to be represented in our pages. We had a terrific distributor, Bernhard DeBoer; I always got a kick out of seeing our new issue magically appear one day in a bookstore or even on the occasional newsstand. My own proclivities affected what was, in the end, a collective editorial policy. Our taste was always open to the experimental—over time, it gravitated toward the increasingly edgy. Principally, PNY’s contribution of significance had most to do with supporting avant-garde initiatives.

Some years after we had gotten off the ground, Harvey Shapiro sent me a back issue of the Yale Poetry Review, whose editing he had taken over when he was young, turning the publication into the original Poetry New York. I was both amazed to learn from Harvey, and embarrassed to admit I hadn’t known, of the Olson essay’s first being published there. For me, quite a bit their junior, Olson was a god whom I first read in 1965.

Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry & Translation 3 (1989). Artwork by Michele Spark.

The irony in all this had to do with the fact that the work of Olson, and of others who were part of the post–World War II avant-garde, was a guiding spirit for me and other young writers I was hanging around with, first in the sixties. It drove much of our editorial decision-making when we were putting out a college magazine titled Transition. In 1967 my coeditor, Sherry Kearns (née Moore), and I had some grant money that a faculty advisor, David Toor, made available to us to spend. We arranged for Olson to be the keynote speaker/reader at a poetry convocation we hosted in Cortland, New York; its participants, some of whom would appear in the later iteration of PNY, included many Beats, Black Mountaineers, and others.

Two decades after that gathering in Cortland, when I would become PNY’s senior editor, a fellow doctoral candidate, Cheryl Fish, took on the main editing duties. Soon thereafter the magazine relocated from the Graduate Center, with Tod Thilleman assuming the editing while Emmy Hunter became our associate editor. We had shifted our center of operations to my apartment in Brooklyn, while maintaining a Manhattan post office box. Later PNY would be set up in Tod’s apartment, when I moved to New Jersey. In order to support PNY, which was no longer getting help from CUNY, I applied for a grant from NYSCA (the New York State Council on the Arts). Successive annual grants from there carried us through the remaining issues until, perhaps out of exhaustion, Tod and I called it quits.

It was a great run.

— Burt Kimmelman, New York, May 2017

Contributors include

Mina Alexander
Karen Alkalay-Gut
Yehuda Amichai
Lew Asekoff
John Ashbery
Jane Augustine
Vyt Bakaitis
Michael Basinski
Kenneth Bernard
Charles Bernstein
Star Black
Yves Bonnefoy
Charles Borkhuis
William Bronk
John Cage
Nick Carbo
Robert Carnevale
Alex Cigale
Norma Cole
Wanda Coleman
Billy Collins
Clark Coolidge
Cid Corman
Robert Creeley
Enid Dame
Jordan Davis
Bei Dao
Robert Dana
Diane di Prima
Sharon Dolin
Joseph Donahue
Mark Ducharme
Denise Duhamel
Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Stephen Ellis
Ted Enslin
Zhang Er
Dan Featherston
Tom Fink
Norman Finkelstein
Ed Foster
Philip Fried
Chris Funkhouser
Madeline Gins
Andrey Gritsman
Rachel Hadas
Leigh Harrison
Michael Heller
Barbara Henning
Gerrit Henry
Robert Hershon
John High
Colette Inez
Rin Ishigaki
Ronald Johnson
Devin Johnston
Amy King
Basil King
Phyillis Koestenbaum
Richard Kostelanetz
Dean Kostos
Ann Lauterbach
David Lehman
Donald Lev
Joel Lewis
Jackson Mac Low
Gwynn McVay
Samuel Menashe
Henri Michaux
Stephen Paul Miller
Sheila E. Murphy
Eileen Myles
Valery Oisteanu
Peter O’Leary
Sharon Olinka
Joel Oppenheimer
Gordon Osing
Maureen Owen
Simon Perchik
Kristin Prevallet
Anna Rabinowitz
Carl Rakosi
Corinne Robins
Bertha Rogers
Jerome Rothenberg
Mark Rudman
Ed Sanders
Leslie Scalapino
Elio Schneeman
Leonard Schwartz
Hugh Seidman
Harvey Shapiro
Eleni Sikélianòs
Michael Stephens
Nikki Stiller
Stephanie Strickland
Chris Stroffolino
John Taggart
Nathaniel Tarn
Madeline Tiger
Shu Ting
Anne Waldman
Keith Waldrop
Rosmarie Waldrop
Mark Wallace
Lewis Warsh
Rosanne Wasserman
Tom Weatherly
Afaa Michael Weaver
Bruce Weigl
Hannah Weiner
Henry Weinfield
Ben Wilensky
Harriet Zinnes

Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry & Translation 6 (Winter 1993/Spring 1994). Cover art and drawings by Tod Thilleman.