Letter from the Editor
Welcome to issue #13! We’re excited and proud to share it with you and have a lot of new work by contributors returning from the previous issue. I’m taking that as a sign that poets we are publishing appreciate what we’re doing and the presentation of their work. Our featured artist, Alex Lilly, has some emotionally and politically charged paintings that are disturbing and beautiful on display in this issue. Be sure not to miss the interview toward the back. I hope we can be a help to get the word out about him. We also have some great prose poetry by some new contributors. Also this issue features critical reviews entirely from the contributors themselves. While explaining what it is we look for and are trying to do when reviewing others in an issue, I found myself telling one contributor this:
“The longer I work as an editor, the more firmly I realize that quality as some objective reality exists less than personal tastes and fashion. So in criticism, and maybe this is a sign of our times, I look more for ‘response’ to a piece of writing than a thorough or exhaustive explication or analytical piece of criticism. You see the same thing in workshops in which even the teachers promulgate their biases and allow savagery in the form of peer review/critique to go unchecked rather than trying to view, understand and promote the piece that the author intended to write–to help the poet transform his artifact into the best possible version of itself. This however would require more than just knowledge of the craft, but also something so often missing: fine judgment and taste developed through practice and erudition that amounts to wisdom–and the ability to teach rather than merely prescribe.”
One of the humbling things about criticism is how it highlights one’s limitations as a reader and critic because one’s blindspots, biases in taste and knowledge, or lack, of the craft–of how and why things work, or don’t–are on full display for all to see. Sometimes the poems we read fail us, as happens humorously in Aaron Belz’s piece featured in this issue, or we can fail the poems. Poetry (and art) is such a social, communal and subjective act, and so too is the attempt at criticism, I find. Art is ruthless in pointing out to us in very personal ways that egalitarianism, at least in regards to the distribution of gifts, is a myth. We are not all equally gifted in talent, intelligence or experience. Rather than a cause for despair, let it be a caution for all to tread softly, and revel in the diversity of talent, taste and perspective on hand during a given moment.
The first act of a critic is surely that of the editor who chooses what he or she will publish and promote in a given issue, and that is tied to issues of subjective taste primarily, and quality secondarily. For me this is an anniversary of sorts as representing roughly three years, or six issues, under my belt as managing editor. We’ve circled around identifying a newer, unique mission and a cohering but evolving vision for the journal, and in the midst of this have had some shake ups and comings and goings of editorial advisory board personnel, a fair amount of software hiccups and travails. However, I feel at this point that we’ve reached a plateau, and healthy stability. What I want to do now that I’ve got my feet on firm ground is look forward and outward at what others are doing online in a competitive effort to do better perhaps what we currently do. Maybe I shouldn’t be saying any of this out loud, but I feel like letting you listen in if you’ve read this far. I want Triggerfish to hone in on what it’s supposed to be doing as an online journal for poets, critics and artists. One thing I’m thinking of is introducing sharp guest editors. Maybe recruiting and introducing some fresh blood into the advisory board or beefing up the masthead with some help from quarters in which we aren’t currently gifted (like for example, someone with enthusiasm for social media or even a software guru who might enhance our look and format in ways I can’t even imagine). Look for interesting changes–exciting–but count on them them to be slow if past experience is any guide, ha. If you, the reader, have suggestions for things you’d like to see implemented please let us know, and realize it might translate as volunteering. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!