We are excited to announce that poet and teacher B.J. Love is the new Executive Editor of Poet Lore. As an introduction to all of our writers and subscribers, he chatted with Managing Editor Emily Holland about what he hopes to bring to the journal, how the internet is changing literary magazines, and where readers can find some of his own work!
A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, B.J. has written and taught poetry and literature for more than 15 years. In that time, he has created youth programs in Italy, led writing workshops in Sitka, Alaska, taught fiction and poetry writing for the Putney School Summer Programs in Vermont, and directed a group of young writers around Ireland. His writing has been published in many journals, magazines, newspapers, and anthologies including; Gulf Coast, The North American Review, Stirring: A Literary Collection, The Moon City Review, Hobart, and Pinwheel Journal.
Emily Holland: What should our readers know about you right off the bat?
B.J. Love: I don’t have to be called B.J. Love. I choose to be called B.J. Love.
E: What are you most excited about as you start your journey as Poet Lore‘s new executive editor?
B.J.: The internet was supposed to kill print, and yet, here we are. So, a little like Lazarus, it’s up to us to figure out what to do with this new life. I’m most looking forward to that. Figuring out what life as a print magazine needs to do to run for another 100 years.
E: Given the journal’s long history, what do you hope to bring to the issues you curate?
B.J.: I.M. Pei died while I was thinking about this question, and if there is anything I hope for my time here, it can be summed up in Pei’s glass pyramid at the Louvre; to both modernize while still preserving what’s already there.
E: You’re a teacher, and you might get this question a lot, but how is editing like teaching? How do they differ?
B.J.: I’m not trying to teach my students to write like me. My goal is show them the best tools they can use to figure out how to write like themselves. Editing isn’t much different; I’m not trying to put together poems for me (I would quickly become the only subscriber left!), I want a magazine that everyone can enjoy. In either case, teaching or editing, my tastes, my desires are not the focus, I’m trying to give you what I think/hope you need.
E: In three words, describe the type of work you are hoping to feature in Poet Lore…
B.J.: Meaningful, but irreverent.
E: Any tips for eager submitters?
B.J.: If you’re sending poems to friends, then definitely send them to us while you’re at it.
E: Poet Lore is one of a diminishing few lit mags still in print — what do you see as the role of a print magazine?
B.J.: A person can develop great intimacy with physical objects. They become triggers for our memories, for our wants and desires. I think Poet Lore needs to become very deliberate about the object we’re putting out in the world. The first ‘date’ my wife went on was after we’d noticed we were both carrying around the same book and so went to a park and took turns reading it to each other. I’ve also started conversations with complete strangers who were wearing t-shirts that featured my favorite bands. People have come up to me on the street to talk about my dog. The things we keep around us are invitations to commune and I hope to make Poet Lore one of the things that people carry around.
E: What can Poet Lore do to tap into the online energy that seems to make those journals so popular and diverse?
B.J.: Trying to put your finger on exactly what a broad audience of readers wants could drive a person insane, but one thing I think we can all say is that when we read we feel a special jolt when we see ourselves represented in some way; physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, etc.
E: Who do you hope will read Poet Lore?
B.J.: Everyone. I want everyone to read Poet Lore!
E: What are you currently working on and where can our readers find some of your poems?
B.J.: I write every day, so I always have a few irons in the fire. I’m hoping to finish a book this summer about a guy named Thad Shumway who loves Subway, pop music, and driving in his Nissan Maxima. There’s a dumb beauty to it that I’m really excited about.
I have another book I’m just now finishing up called What is Wrong With Me. You can find lots of those poems around in places like, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Bear Review, Moon City Review, Gulf Coast, Gold Wake Live, Gravel, and Josephine Quarterly.