About Us

Poet Lore is a biannual print journal of poetry, featuring the finest in contemporary writing. Book-length issues deliver news from the interior—poems that make concerns of our moment both urgent and intimate. Published with the conviction that poetry provides a record of human experience as valuable as history, Poet Lore’s intended audience is broadly inclusive.

Like that of Poet Lore’s founders, the continued mission is one of discovery.

Unlike most journals, Poet Lore welcomes long poems and sequences. In this way, Poet Lore invites cover-to-cover reading, bringing diverse poems into conversation with one another. Our newly redesigned issue measures 8.5 x 11 inches, allowing us to position multiple poems on one page to invite readers to make connections between each poem.

Poet Lore’s reputation for discovery arises from this unique editorial culture: a commitment to considering each submission with care and engaging authors in a meaningful exchange. The goal is nothing less than offering its readers poems built to last.

For more information on what we look for in submissions and our editorial vision, check out this interview at Frontier Poetry with our editor, Emily Holland.

Poet Lore is published in Bethesda, MD, by The Writer’s Center, a literary arts non-profit.

Poet Lore is a wonderful thing—a venue with a venerable tradition and a cutting-edge presence. I’m grateful for the support the magazine showed me [when I was starting out], and for the forum it provides to writers from across the spectrum now.
—D. Nurkse, former poet laureate of Brooklyn and human rights writer

Our Story

Founded in January 1889, Poet Lore is the nation’s oldest poetry journal. It has published world-famous poets and new writers side by side throughout its long history. Charlotte Porter and Helen Clarke, two progressive young Shakespeare scholars, launched Poet Lore as a forum on “Shakespeare, Browning, and the Comparative Study of Literature” but soon sought out the original work of living writers.

Early issues of the magazine featured poetry by such luminaries as Rabindranath Tagore, Frederic Mistral, Rainer Maria Rilke, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Paul Verlaine. Poems by Sara Teasdale, Emma Lazarus, and many other women poets appeared in Poet Lore’s pages, including work by Harriet Monroe, who went on to establish Poetry magazine in 1912.

Porter and Clarke, who were life partners as well as co-editors, founded Poet Lore in Philadelphia but two years later moved to Boston, where the journal remained until 1976, when it was purchased by Heldref Publications in Washington, DC. For the past 25 years, Poet Lore has been a publication of The Writer’s Center.

Many renowned American poets published their early work (sometimes their very first poems) in Poet Lore—Kim Addonizio, David Baker, John Balaban, Carolyn Forché, Alice Fulton, Dana Gioia, Sharon Olds, Carl Phillips, R.T. Smith, and Mary Oliver among them.

More recently, we’ve published contemporary poets including Erika Meitner, Terrance Hayes, Natasha Trethewey, Tarfia Faizullah, Benjamin Garcia, Leah Umansky, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Jose Hernandez Diaz, Aldo Amparán, Felicia Zamora, Nome Emeka Patrick, and many others.