2015 was a banner year for Songs of Eretz. The year saw over 200 poems published or reprinted. There were 52,000 visits to the website--an average of 1,000 visits per week! And the year also saw the launching of my own personal poetry webpage, Steves of Grass www.StevesofGrass.blogspot.com, separating my personal weblog from Poetry Review and making the Review website more streamlined and easier to navigate.
This year’s poetry contest was wildly popular and a successful fund-raiser. Scores of poets participated, and we were able to offer double the prize money of last year (a full one thousand dollars). The vast majority of poems submitted were of particularly high quality, and I had the privilege of providing personal responses to all 340 of them. And, although there will be only one winner (to be announced January 1, 2016), dozens of entries have seen or will see publication or reprinting in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review. Former Oklahoma Poet Laureate Carol Hamilton did a wonderful job as guest judge and provided personal, individual feedback to the nine finalists and winner. I extend a heartfelt thanks to all participants--your outpouring of support was gratifying, validating, and truly humbling.
2016 will see some exciting changes in the Review. While the annual poetry contest will continue to accept reprints, all poems that will appear in the Review will be previously unpublished (with the exception of a few reprints already in the publishing queue before this change was made). Most exciting of all, while the Review will continue to accept unsolicited submissions, the poetry of a group of twelve up-and-coming poets will be routinely featured. These poets were personally invited by me to consider Songs of Eretz as a steady publishing venue for their work and have made commitments to submit at least two poems per poet per month. The names of these “Frequent Contributors” will be announced in early January 2016, and their biographies will be prominently featured on the webpage.
The coming year’s annual poetry contest is slated to open around September and will offer a prize of at least one thousand dollars. We are still searching for a guest judge at this time. A modest honorarium is attached to the position. If you believe you are qualified to be our guest judge or know someone who is, please let me know SWGordonMD@gmail.com.
All the best for a happy New Year,
Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD