Letter from the Editor
This mega-issue is in some ways a sequel and follow-up to Issue #10 in that it’s largely featuring poets who currently workshop or in the past have workshopped at The Critical Poet. To those of you reading this who don’t know how Triggerfish started, it began as an outgrowth of the online workshop and community with a two-fold purpose of providing a publication and editorial/critical venue to TCP, and as an alternative to the online poetry forum contest IBPC (Interboard Poetry Contest) in which we could internally nominate and then vote for and select either a best poem or a group of best poems workshopped for a given time (usually a month). Triggerfish wanted to publish the best work it could find whether inside or outside the workshop, implement the workshop’s critical mission and faculties of participating members serving as editors, and possibly introduce those who followed and submitted to the journal to an online workshop community.
Over the years Triggerfish and TCP have grown apart, not intentionally or dramatically as through divorce, but more gradually and naturally as different editors have served and moved on and as the needs of both organizations have changed with the passing of time. The relationship is still there but less prominent. In my opinion it’s evidence that the journal and the workshop are maturing—many of the workshoppers are submitting their work to outside journals, and TCR, while still wanting to focus energies promoting unknown or under-appreciated poets, is looking further afield broadening its scope. Our heavy emphasis on TCP workshopping poets (in Issues #10 and #11) will be coming to a close after this issue. It’s the turning of a page and a kind of farewell. If it isn’t a maturing it’s at least a shift in direction. TCR is still interested in poets who blog and post or workshop online but aren’t finding a lot of support elsewhere from other poets, publications, the artistic community where they live, or academia at large. From time to time we may still solicit work from TCP but with less frequency and intention, though we may look to other workshops on the net because TCP is one amongst many.
You’ll notice that most of the poets featured in this issue also serve on our editorial board. We went through the obvious struggle of whether or not to publish ourselves and whether that might lower our esteem or the reputation of the journal in the eyes of the public. I had decided that Issues #10 and #11 were of a piece (as representative of TCP community) and that I could cull the poems from the board as a way of showing off their chops and giving the readership an idea of what they were capable of, and then they insisted I, as chief editor, should do the same for similar reasons and they chose selections from my work as I had theirs. It still risks looking highly self-indulgent and narcissistic. Ultimately the conclusion I’ve come to is that this sort of project and dilemma is nothing new. Friends are always promoting (read publishing) friends, whether it’s within academia or outside and in reaction against it, and risk facing the same accusations by those who view it from the outside and shake their heads or their fingers at them. It looks like self-promotion, but I think now (and especially with poetry, where no money and not a lot of real prestige or reputation is on the line) what it really is is people reading something and getting excited about it and wanting to share it with others. This is how they become associated initially, and then become friends, start presses or journals, and eventually form schools. The work is the glue and the tie that binds and becomes the energy and synergy as a community of friends mimetically challenges and spurs one another on catalystically (as we have). An editor when confronted with these issues sometimes says, to hell with it, and why not—who really cares, and, it’s the poetry that matters not the ego (in an ironic twist). None of us are exhibitionists and several of us never seek out publication on our own. And when your friends write and then hide their work on their blogs and shun wider publication, and it’s some of the best work you’re reading anywhere, and it’s built into your mission to publish exactly this kind of writer, well, that’s Issue #11 in a nutshell. You the readers will have to be the judge, and I always welcome feedback.
It’s truly a pleasure and an honor to feature Z.Z. Wei’s fine visual artwork. In the process of putting together this issue, I visited Portland’s Attic Gallery, and was able to see 11 of ZZ’s canvases and was impressed by how stunning they are in person and how our reproductions on display in the issue fail to do them justice—not just the colors and blending but the brush strokes and texture. Even the book Light and Shadow: A 20 Year Journey of American Landscape does an excellent job, but falls strangely and surprisingly short of a canvas seen in person (eat your heart out, Steve!). For a short time I lived on the Palouse and still regularly drive through the areas ZZ is painting. Perhaps I don’t need to say this but what he is doing is representative but goes way beyond toward surrealism and the numinous which the online images hint at but fail at capturing anywhere near as completely if you don’t know the area being depicted and don’t happen to be in the presence of the work itself. A fun fact learned while visiting Diana Faville, owner of the Attic Gallery, is that ZZ doesn’t name his canvases—this is something the galleries representing him do. If you’re interested in purchasing ZZ’s work you should consider contacting Diana at the Attic and be aware that details regarding pricing and payment schedule have some flexibility built in. He commands good prices for his work, but she wanted me to pass along not to let sticker shock keep you from making inquiries.
One last thing I should mention is that we are currently three months behind schedule publishing this issue. We’ve changed content management software from Joomla! to WordPress after suffering a couple of rather crippling snafus over the last two issues. I came across Stacy Clements at Olive Tree Solutions who designed our site and imported all the data to the new software and her company has become a new host for our site. She’s ridiculously honest, diligent, reasonably priced, and knowledgeable in Joomla! and WordPress. If you are looking for a software troubleshooter or web designer I highly recommend her services.
Please take a look at the issue and I hope you enjoy what you find. I’m confident there’s enough talent and variety on display to captivate you for a few hours.