Notes on This Issue
A philosopher, three science writers, a political candidate, a fiction writer, two critics and a filmmaker selected poems for this first issue of Porlock.
Seven staff editors winnowed submissions received before December 1, 2022 to 45 poems. Guest editors A. C. Grayling, Rebecca Priestley, Ferris Jabr, David Toomey, Zephyr Teachout, Adachioma Ezeano, Matt Hanson, Sven Birkerts and Devorah Baum selected from those poems as many or as few as they wished, listing those they particularly favored. Editors were asked to exclude from consideration anyone they knew personally. They didn't select poems collectively.
Poet bios and photographs haven't arrested poetry's public decline. More attention could be paid to poems and their readers. We've listed the names of guest editors under each poem they picked, italicizing those who thought the poem stood out among those they selected. On our Poems page we've listed the last name of the author of a poem with the number of guest editors who selected it and, in parentheses, the number of those who particularly liked it. In arranging the links on that page we've gone by the numbers but for some readers a single mention by one guest editor could mean more than multiple endorsements by others.
I was greatly encouraged by the responses of potential guest editors. I didn't know the 98 people I emailed and, with a few exceptions, I didn't know if they had any interest in poetry. Nine generously volunteered to read poems and another 16 liked this project -- some very much -- but couldn't participate this time. Established journals should have no difficulty finding such editors.
Porlock proposes a new standard of success for poems: their endorsement by disinterested and representative readers.
Contemporary poetry might not be so readily dismissed as ingrown and trivial. Poets could make amends to a village defamed for two centuries.