I want to introduce the collaborative poetry website Likestarlings, which is unlike many web-based journals that I have seen. Perhaps because it isn’t a journal, exactly; it is not published in regular intervals like a quarterly, nor is the work selected in the conventional manners. The Likestarlings editors pair poets together who agree to collaborate on a “folio” of six new poems, usually taking the form of a call and response, each writer having a turn to answer. These are essentially “conversations in poems,” as the editors like to say. Sometimes the poems within a pairing are published as each turn is completed, so that the attentive reader can see the conversation unfolding over a span of weeks, months maybe. Time becomes visible in that way.
Likestarlings was begun in 2009 by Caleb Klaces, a terrific British poet I met in Austin, TX. The poetry editors are David Hawkins in the UK, and Jeffrey Pethybridge in the US. While most of the collaborations have been between British poets, or between North American poets, there is always the happy occasion when the poem exchange takes place across the Atlantic. We are waving to each other from our continents. Likestarlings plumbs the nature of correspondence and collaboration while proliferating the very act. How is the poem a meeting ground, a place for slowing and listening? Likestarlings offers a space for experimentation (though isn’t all writing experimental?). They welcome statements on correspondence, dialogue, the possibilities of poetic address, etc. in their prose section edited by poet-scholar Anat Bensvi. She calls these slant/angled poetics.
Here are some recent collaborations and essays that I find engaging, though the entire archive is a treasure-house. Truly!
Brian Blanchfield & Richard Siken
Ishion Hutchinson & Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Kirun Kapur & Sarah Howe
Benjamin Paloff & Jon Woodward
Jessica Murray & Jennifer Moxley
Joshua Marie Wilkinson & Hoa Nguyen
And can I have a moment to say something about the name: Likestarlings! Isn’t it a glory? It is an imperative and half-simile all at once! Yes, I’m already fond of starlings, thank you. How is anything like a starling-flock? I’ve only seen them in video––the lot of them in flight making something of a cloth that billows then folds and pivots back. Synchronicity, change, splendor! This has much to do with poetry! Here’s something on youtube:
*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.
Carolina Ebeid was selected as the 2012-2014 Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University, where she works on the editing staff of West Branch. She holds a degree from the Michener Center for Writers. She is also a 2011 CantoMundo Fellow. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Poetry, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, Anti-, Forklift, Ohio; 32 Poems, Indiana Review and other journals.