Monday, December 31, 2018

Songs of Eretz 2018: A Year in Review and a Look Ahead

2018 marked yet another good year for Songs of Eretz.  The site recorded just shy of 100,000 more views, and we enjoyed paying guest poets a professional rate of fifty dollars a poem.  Duotrope sponsored our contest this year, a sitting state poet laureate is serving as guest judge, and a record $1,500 will be given away in contest honoraria in the coming year, which will bring the total amount that we have given away to poets and for poetry to well over $5,000. Not bad for a plucky little e-zine whose stated mission is “to bring a little more good poetry into the world.”

We had to say farewell to Frequent Contributors Yoni Hammer-Kossoy, Sierra July, Mary Soon Lee, Lauren McBride, and Aparna Sanyal but we are pleased to welcome five new Frequent Contributors to the staff.  While the old FCs will be dearly missed, this yearly attrition helps to keep Songs of Eretz fresh and cutting edge.  Our new FCs are Silvia Cavanaugh, Richard Fenwick, Karla Linn Merrifield, Vivian Finley Nida, and Charles A. Swanson.  They are accomplished poets from all over the United States, and their diverse poetic voices will be a real treat.  Their bios may be read in the “Our Staff” section.

The editorial staff expanded to include Art Editor Jason Artemus Gordon, Associate Editor James Frederick William Rowe, and Assistant Editor Terri Lynn Cummings.  This team has already begun taking on about half of the editorial duties that used to fall only to me.  I am looking forward to the contributions they will make in the operation of Songs of Eretz and to the freedom their help will afford me to spend more time on strategic planning.  And I have so many strategic plans!

Most significantly, beginning in January 2019, Songs of Eretz Poetry Review will go from publishing every weekday to publishing eleven themed issues per year (about one issue per month around the middle of each month).  Around February, there will also be a special contest issue featuring the winners of and finalists in the Fifth Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest.  A Readers Choice Award Contest will follow, allowing the readership to choose its favorite poem from among the non-winning finalists.

I have also decided that Songs of Eretz will be a project funded by love, not by money.  No more contests.  No more fundraisers.  No more asking for donations.  No reading fees for poetry submissions.  Just beautiful poetry accompanied by beautiful art offered to the world to view for free.  The e-zine will go back to paying our guest (non-FC) poets a semi-professional rate of five dollars per poem.  

And while I do hope that contributors will still take advantage of the unique opportunities that providing Poet’s Notes Statements present, they will no longer be required to do so.  Some poets feel (quite strongly) that poetry should “speak for itself.”  Songs of Eretz is going to respect that.

In the past, all illustrations that accompanied our poems were chosen by me from royalty-free images offered online.  Thanks to our new Art Editor, Songs of Eretz was able to publish many original, custom illustrations to complement our poems this year.  Beginning in 2019, Jason’s original artwork will be offered for sale to the general public. (As a courtesy, we will give the poets whose poems inspired the illustrations rights of first refusal).  These one-of-a-kind drawings and paintings, which will be offered framed alone or side-by-side with their poems, will make unique and beautiful adornments to or conversation pieces in any home or simply wonderful gifts.

Finally, in an effort to put more “review” in the Review, at least one review of a poetry collection will appear in each issue next year, and we will begin accepting poetry collection submissions for review.  Since our raison d’ĂȘtre is to promote poetry and poets, we will only publish positive reviews.

So many great things have happened, and even more are to come.  This is only possible due to our loyal readership, generous supporters, and the outstanding talent of our Frequent Contributors and guest poets. Together we have made and will continue to make the world a little more beautiful.

On behalf of Songs of Eretz, I wish you farewell until our first monthly issue appears in the middle of January 2019 and all the best for a happy New Year.

Kind regards,
Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD

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