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A Local Chance for Poets

UWEC experience inspires new poetry journal

Barbara Arnold

In the movie Dead Poets Society, poetry teacher John Keating (played by Robin Williams) asks his students to stand on his desk to get a different perspective on the world.

That different view is what Josh Lind, associate registrar at UW-Eau Claire by day and poetry journal editor by night, looks for in submissions to the Hartskill Review, A Journal of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, which he launched earlier this year.

Lind started writing poetry as a teenager. He credits two professors from UW-Eau Claire for maturing his taste. (He earned a major in history and a minor in creative writing at the university.)

“I took several classes with Max Garland, who really helped me understand the mechanics of poems, how they operate, the tensions between the words on the page and the reader who encounters them. Max emphasized the communicative power of poetry and the importance of establishing a meaningful context for human emotion,” he said.

“At the same time, I was taking literary theory classes with Bob Nowlan, who had a tremendous impact on my interest in understanding the constellation of social, economic, and political forces at work in the production of literary texts,” he continued. “I came to view poetry as an incredibly rich area of study, a place where the self tries to understand and act in the world.”

Lind went on to earn a master of arts in English at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and a Ph.D. in English at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore.

The Spring and Fall 2014 issues pack an eclectic mix of 84 poems by 75 poets from around the world along with a handful of reviews into two 3/8-inch thick soft-cover books. Since he started, Lind has received 1,154 poems and accepted 84. He also considers reviews and essays for the journal, which will be published three times a year.

Lind included a poetic essay in his debut journal that pokes fun at the submission process, because “it just seemed right.” “Literary Agent Listing” by Quintin Overocker requests in the query: “Please include the names of our childhood pets, what we had for dinner on March 19, 2003, and our favorite non-primary color.”

One of Lind’s favorite poems, “The Brides of Rome,” by Douglas Goetsch, is in the second journal. The poem is highly visual evoking dozens of images of weddings on the steps of 900 “ancient” churches in modern-day Rome: “the groomsmen slicking back their hair, the bridesmaids tossing theirs.” At the end, weddings are actually blips in history: “…cherubs who have spied on how many Sundays for how many springs, how many men and how many women spilling out the doors and down the steps?”

Lind welcomes submissions from Chippewa Valley writers. “I’m looking at poetry that people are writing now, and if they have a shoebox full of poems they wrote 20 years ago, I’m willing to look at them, too,” he said.

“The main thing I look for when reading submissions is to look for poets who have found  a way to enact believable human emotions,” Lind said. “The test is that they have to have the ability to launch. In this sense, poems need to be like paper airplanes rather than a catalog of instructions.”

Writers can submit at hartskillreview.wordpress.com — however, Lind does not review submissions online. He prefers to print them out and read them away from distractions. And while many such journals are published online, Lind prefers to publish only hard copy.

“There is something about touching the page that evokes a feeling when reading a poem out loud or to oneself,” he said.

Hartskill Review is available at hartskillreview.wordpress.com