- Illustration by Diana Bryan
In early 2003, I received a phone call from Brian Mahoney asking if I would be interested in becoming Chronogram's poetry editor. Franci Levine-Grater, the current editor, was moving to California, and the position was open. I didn't know Brian, and was only slightly familiar with Poetica, what the poetry page in Chronogram was called at the time. But I did know, and love, Chronogram—nearly everyone in the Mid-Hudson valley did. Brian didn't really know me either, but the weekly poetry open mike, Monday Night Forever, that I was running at the Colony Café was in full swing, as was another series I ran, the Woodstock Poetry Society's 2nd Saturday monthly reading, so it seemed a match well met and in June, 2003, I became Chronogram's fifth poetry editor. Cool. What next?
Well...reading and selecting. Since June 2003, I have received (and read!) nearly 13,000 poems, submitted by over 5,000 poets, to end up publishing 1,300+ poems. We have published poets from all over the world, with about half, typically, residing in the Mid-Hudson valley. The poetry section now also includes a personal favorite, "Kid's Corner," where the magical words of poets as young as two years old are shared.
I like to believe that I am open to all forms, all tones, all topics, and I think the eclectic mix of work that one finds there reflects that. I publish what I like, what startles me, what causes me to pause. I try to be open to anything that moves me. I wouldn't know any other way. Sometimes I succeed. I also try to write a personal reply to every submission, whether accepted or passed on, to convey my appreciation for people's willingness to share their writing. Thank you.
The poetry section of Chronogram has been there since (nearly) the beginning. It is now two full pages, goes unnamed, (and unadorned, as for a time it featured various poetic image embellishments), but nearly always finds itself in or near mid-magazine. I imagine it will, happily, continue—with your help. Keep 'em coming.
Phillip X Levine is a poet, actor, teacher, and aspiring stand-up comedian. He has read more poetry than all your former English teachers put together.