Poetry Month, Day 17*: Laura McCullough Recommends American Poetry Review

April 17, 2013

One of my favorite literary magazines is American Poetry Review.  It has been publishing poetry and essays since the 70s, and recently relocated to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, which should ensure its future in this difficult time for print mags. The reason I like APR might seem selfish to anyone who knows that they’ve published some poems of mine over time as well as some of my essays, but the reasons that I admire them are the reasons I submitted to them, not the other way around.

When I first began seriously reading and writing poetry just after 9/11 (I had recently finished an MFA in fiction), APR was one of the magazines I turned to as I began to understand the contemporary poetry landscape, and I found it was one of the very few places I could find long essays by poets on poetry and one of the few places that published a wide array of aesthetics in poets/poetry, often including numerous poems by poets. I liked the daily-ness of the format, the newspaper layout, the sense you could take poetry folded under your arm onto the bus, to the beach.

And I loved the essays, the ranginess of them, and the fact that they were unapologetically long and thoughtful. When I began writing essays myself, I found that in order to think through what I was considering, it often took 5000 or more words to do so. None of this 650 word limit at APR; the editors were and are willing to give poets the space to consider topics, linkages, and books thoroughly, to pin ball between the cultural, the political, and the personal, to wade belly deep in aesthetics, to wallow and roll in a beloved poet’s entire oeuvre, to explore as well as unpack and explicate.  I love the editors for their generosity and intelligence as much as for their  risk taking and willingness to make space for new as well as established writers.  For my money, I love APR.

—Laura McCullough

*Throughout Poetry Month 32 Poems will use this space to praise presses, journals, and readings series that bring poetry to us in a special way. Our hope is that we can point new fans in their direction and publicly thank editors and curators for their work. Check in with us again tomorrow for another poet’s recommendation.


Laura McCullough‘s books of poetry include Rigger Death & Hoist Another (Black Lawrence Press, June 13), Panic (winner of the Kinereth Gensler Award, Alice James Books, 11), and Speech Acts (Black Lawrence Press, 10). She is the editor of two anthologies, The Room & the World: Essays on the poet Stephen Dunn, (Syracuse UP, forthcoming 13), and A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race, (U of Georgia P, slated for fall 014). She is the editor of Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations and an editor at large for TranStudies Magazine.

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