A peek at the future of poetry

Although National Poetry Month is coming to a close, a great way to extend the celebration is to subscribe to a literary journal or two. Literary journals are magazines that cater specifically to lovers of literature. They are published in a wide variety of formats and frequency, from annual volumes to online 'zines that update daily.

There are journals to suit every interest. The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses says on its Web site, "No other outlet exists which makes available so much literary work with such frequency and at a fairly modest cost." Full of fresh and surprising poetry, short fiction, interviews and reviews, literary journals are at the forefront of contemporary writing.

Small journals are usually where new poets and writers first publish. Many of today's popular poets and writers got their first break from a small press. Well-known journals often feature new work from a famous writer alongside the debut of an unknown author. For this reason, literary magazines offer readers a chance to witness the birth of a new star and a glimpse into the future of literature.

One such journal is the Ashland-based West Wind Review. Run by students at Southern Oregon University, it publishes poetry, short stories and artwork. The journal, published annually in the spring, is in its 25th year and has grown in scope and depth over time. The magazine's stated goal is to "strive to publish top-notch writing that has something to say and says it in a way we'd never expect."

Amy Miller, an Ashland poet and writer, has a poem in this year's upcoming journal.

"I am pleased to be a part of it. A lot of good poets have the West Wind Review in their credits," she said.

A tip Miller offers for those interested in publishing their work in literary journals: "Read the journal. Read several issues and get a feel for what the editors are looking for."

The West Wind Review features many Rogue Valley poets, as well as writers from across the nation and around the world.

Craig Wright, the West Wind Review's faculty advisor, has been working with students on the journal for nearly 14 years.

"We started off a little magazine, with students mostly publishing themselves and their friends, but now we've become a true international journal," he said.

Wright credits part of the magazine's success to the student editors and their hard work.

"In the past, we've hosted successful open mikes, we've advertised in the community and we've been in the Writer's Market," he said.

He adds that he recently returned from a bookseller's conference in New York. "I saw a lot of literary journals, and I would put the West Wind Review alongside any recognized journal out there."

The latest issue of the journal will be released in May and will be available at the SOU bookstore and Bloomsbury Books.

"We're definitely going to do an event around the release. We've got a good book coming out, that's for sure," said Wright.

For further information or submission guidelines for next year's West Wind Review, e-mail westwind@.sou.edu or write to West Wind Review, 1250 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland, Oregon 97520.

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