Wednesday 12 August 2009

Why I Withdrew from Editing the Prose Poetry Anthology

Last summer CB Editions engaged me and Jane Monson to co-edit an anthology of contemporary British prose poetry, but when they did not secure Arts Council funding in response to a hastily prepared application (that ignored some crucial points I, a former grantwriter, had made about it), CB Editions editor Charles Boyle promptly, awkwardly dropped the project in spite of his former enthusiasm.

At this point we had already put out a call for submissions and accepted several pieces of work. Jane and I, both passionate about the anthology, decided to continue with the project and pursue other publishers. A month or so later, I was approached by an experienced anthology editor regarding the possibility of a prose poetry anthology, and on account of long delays in response to my messages, it took over six months before I could confirm that there was not, in fact, a publisher to hand. To clarify the time frame, it was spring 2009 before I learned that there was no publisher in the wings for the anthology, whichever editors were involved.

If you've been reading this blog, you'll know that in spring 2009, or, more specifically, March, was when my father unexpectedly died, which occasioned a week's visit then and another two weeks' visit the following month. When I started to catch up with my life in May, I realized that in my new circumstances, I had too much on: my first book coming out the next month, the second book scheduled for January 2011, and an anthology of experimental/post avant UK women's poetry for Shearsman due out in 2010. That's not to mention my teaching for Bath Spa University and The Poetry School or my reviewing.

Of course, all those commitments were made alongside the prose poetry anthology, but with my father's death, I would now be even more involved in my family's lives back in Illinois, what with supporting my mother and helping her to move from the house she's been living in for thirty-five years, more frequent visits, etc.

So sometime in late May/early June, I called Jane and told her I needed to relinquish the project to her. We met in London last week to talk about where the anthology would go from here (I'm still doing what I can to support the anthology in my reduced position), and Jane is well organized to take sole responsibility. She's begun wading through past submissions, rejecting some, accepting others, and will shortly approach a publisher or two we've discussed about the book. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jane at prosepoetryanthology (at) gmail (dot) com.

I hope someday to be involved in editing another prose poetry anthology, but I think given my other commitments and plans, that's a long way off. All my best wishes to Jane for what I expect to be an invigorating, wide-ranging collection.

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