Poetry Northwest is a print, bi-annual, poetry journal founded in 1959 and has published many famous poets over the years, including Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, and Stephen Dunn. They feature poems from each issue on their web site, so you can browse and see what types of work they publish.
I wondered how and why this magazine came to be, so I asked editor Erin Malone a few questions to find out. See my interview with Malone and a link to their submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Poetry Northwest.
MALONE: Founded in 1959, Poetry Northwest is the oldest running literary magazine in the northwest, with some legendary names in its pages, and on the masthead– including Carolyn Kizer, Richard Hugo, Edith Shiffert, and David Wagoner. Kizer handed the editor’s baton to Wagoner in the mid-60’s, and he ran the journal for a record 36 years. If you look at our website, you’ll see that period is known as the “First Series,” when Poetry Northwest was housed at the University of Washington. Temporarily suspended for a couple of years in the early 2000’s because of financial woes, the magazine was brought back under the editorial eye of David Biespiel in Portland in 2006, then moved “back home” to Washington at Everett Community College, with Kevin Craft as editor. During the years starting with Biespiel the magazine got a new, larger format, allowing space for art and occasional essays and reviews. This is our “Second Series.” Aaron Barrell and I stepped into the editors’ role in 2016.
HOPKINSON: How/why was Poetry Northwest originally started?
MALONE: In the late 1950’s, the northwest was still largely unknown to the literary community. We were an outpost of sorts, way out on the frontier. I like to think of our founders, including Carolyn Kizer who was born in Spokane and educated in the east, waving hello to the New York publishing society–“Pay attention! Here we are!”
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
MALONE: People have the idea that because “Northwest” is part of our name, we favor nature poetry, that we only publish poems with trees and stars in them. We do, of course, publish some of those, but we like all sorts of poems. Readers will find a diverse array of voices in our pages, on any imaginable subject. Our aim is simply to publish the best writing we can find.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
MALONE: This is a great question. I think that poems relying on formal constraint are rare. Poems that are formally innovative, from poets who know the rules and then purposefully break them to reveal something new, are exciting.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
MALONE: Ninth Letter, Copper Nickel, Horsethief, jubilat, Beloit Poetry Journal are just a few that come immediately to mind. But there are so many great ones out there.
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
MALONE: Through Submittable on our website, http://www.poetrynw. org/about/submissions-info/. Our reading period is September 15-March 15 every year.
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
MALONE: Send an email to email@example.com.
DEADLINE: March 15, 2018
SUBMISSION FEE: None
PAYMENT: Payment consists of two copies of the issue in which your work appears, plus a year's subscription.
FORMAT: Print and online
FORMS: poetry, book reviews, essays, poetry culture & poetics, artwork, photography, videography
NOTES: For non-subscribers, the first poetry submission of up to five poems each reading period is no fee. Additional submissions are $3.