Letter to the Poetry Foundation

Dear Christian Wiman,

Thank you for your recent form letter addressing me as “Dear Reader” and soliciting a half price subscription toward POETRY Magazine. I am not sure how I got on your mailing list, but I am guessing it is a result of my sending John Barr twelve or so issues of my magazine, POESY #31, which features an interview with Mr. Charles P. Ries and his correspondence with the POETRY FOUNDATION. I have enclosed another copy for your review just in case an issue actually never got into your hands.

Although I thank you for the kind letter, I don’t think I will be subscribing to POETRY. As enticing as 50% off your $35.00 annual subscription sounds, I have to agree with Mr. Charles P. Ries and seek elsewhere for poetic inspiration.

I have read several issues of POETRY over the past seven years and find that the poems selected for each issue do not reinforce cutting edge American poetry. It may be my opinion that, although I am happy “your circulation numbers are skyrocketing” from 11,000 to 27,000 (+), I disagree to the claim that you “find great work before anyone else.” If that were true, POETRY would be looking for its authors in the small press astray from the space granted to Billy Collins and Kay Ryan within your pages.

We are both editors and know that the great poets mentioned in your form letter (i.e., Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Anne Sexton, etc.) all began submitting to the littles before they were widely accepted into publications who solicit subscriptions addressing their audience as “Dear Reader,…” from a corporate, or foundation, perspective.

However, this does explain why no one at POETRY responded to any of the topics about the FOUNDATION discussed in POESY. I respect that POETRY has taken pride in your voice as a mainstay in publishing since 1912 and has earned its “place at the center of American poetry,” but I did think you, Mr. Christian Wiman, fellow editor of POETRY, were above responding with only a form letter and a coupon soliciting a subscription out of me. The article you enclosed entitled, “Poetry Magazine’s Rebirth” from the New York Sun’s December 20, 2005 edition was a nice read, but does not suffice either.

I don’t know what I expected out of you. Maybe a quick, “Hi” or “Hello Brian” would have cut it. Or maybe I wanted to hear, “no Brian, you’ve got it all wrong…” Either way, I am sending you a free issue of my magazine filled with grass roots poetry that may help you find a voice along with the return of your form letter, 50% special coupon, the “Let us remember…” postcard, the Poetry Magazine’s Rebirth article and the Business Reply Mail envelope.

Brian Morrisey