Poetry Daily, the popular daily online anthology that has been promoting poetry since 1997 at www.poems.com, has begun the process of moving to George Mason University where it will be published in partnership with the Department of English’s Creative Writing Program and George Mason University Libraries. Founders Don Selby and Diane Boller, who are retiring at the end of the year after steering, editing, and growing the web-based journal for more than twenty-one years, will remain on the board of directors of Daily Poetry Association, the nonprofit organization that publishes Poetry Daily. Editors, students, and staff at Mason take on daily production as of January 1, 2019.
For 365 days a year, Poetry Daily showcases a poem from a new book, magazine or journal, in addition to featuring weekly poetry news and essays about poetry. Drawing on poetry publications both small and large, featuring work by emerging, established, and eminent poets alike, the online journal’s goal is to make it easier for people to find poets and poetry they appreciate and to help publishers bring news of their books, magazines, and journals to more people.
“We’re excited that the team at George Mason will carry Poetry Daily’s mission into the future,” said Selby and Boller. “Their grasp of its past and, equally important, their thoughtful imagination in looking to its future has been inspiring as we have worked together on this transition.”
The editorial direction of Poetry Daily will be taken on by poets Peter Streckfus, associate professor of English and Brodsky Rome prize fellow in literature, and Sally Keith, professor of English and Guggenheim fellow, who will alternate roles as editorial director and associate editorial director every few years. Poet Aaron McCollough, director of the two publishing units of Mason University Libraries, George Mason University Press and Mason Publishing, will serve as associate editor, specializing in the production processes of the journal. The intense work of producing a daily publication will be shared with interns and students in Mason’s graduate MFA program, who will gain unique experience in managing the highly regarded journal.
The new editors are in the midst of a major rebuild of the Poetry Daily website. In addition to featuring the daily poems and news the journal is known for, the new website will integrate social media strategies that will expand the journal’s impact.
“As we’ve discussed the transition, Don, Diane, Sally and I have envisioned an expansion of what Poetry Daily does and how it does it—searching for more diverse voices and publications, featuring more translation and global poetry in English, a poetry news digest on twitter that will go out to the site’s over 150,000 followers, which we hope to increase, Open Educational Resource curricula based around new editorial features, and more,” said Streckfus.
“The NEA reports that poetry reading is the highest it’s been in almost a decade and a half, with much of that increase coming from rises in poetry reading among young adults, people of color, and women,” Streckfus continued. “Our aim is to bring new, exciting content to the thousands of dedicated readers Poetry Daily has served for twenty years. At the same time, we hope to bring many new readers into contact with the vitality—with the breath and breadth—of contemporary poetry.”
Central to the plan the editors have developed is a broader editorial model, a new sixteen-member editorial board of notable, engaged poets. “By selecting poems, introducing books, and taking part in our editorial features, this board will present to readers a daily, public conversation,” Streckfus said, “about the best and most interesting in new poetry, who writes it, and the many places in which it is being published.”
New Editorial Board
Alongside Keith and McCollough, and Jennifer Atkinson, Eric Pankey, and Susan Tichy, faculty of Mason’s MFA in Creative Writing poetry program, the journal’s new editorial board will be composed of eleven other notable poets from across the country: Kaveh Akbar, Jennifer Chang, Heather Green, Yona Harvey, Layli Long Soldier, Amaud Jamaul Johnson, Ilya Kaminsky, Sandra Lim, J. Michael Martinez, Vivek Narayanan, and Brian Teare.
The Mason University Libraries and English Department have worked closely in developing a curricular model that supports the editorial work necessary for a publication of this caliber. “Working on a public project such as Poetry Daily is a natural partnership for a library publishing unit like ours,” said McCollough. “It’s an exciting opportunity to put our publishing expertise to work practically in the curriculum and to offer educational resources beyond the university.” Debra Lattanzi Shutika, chair of English agreed: “I’m thrilled to have Poetry Daily part of the Creative Writing Program’s educational mission. Working alongside the editors and contributing to the new vision of this journal will benefit our students enormously. This is public humanities at work.”
Nonprofit Behind Poetry Daily Remains
Selby and Boller emphasized that although Poetry Daily will be housed at Mason, the nonprofit they founded to direct the journal’s administration and fundraising will continue to need support from donors and sponsors. Gregg Wilhelm, director of the Creative Writing Program, will manage these efforts in coordination with Daily Poetry Association’s board of directors.
“The perennial challenge remains of finding the financial support necessary to continue Poetry Daily’s work,” said Selby and Boller. “We’re so appreciative of the loyal and generous support that Poetry Daily has received over the years, and the operational realities going forward are unchanged.”
Prior to launching Poetry Daily, Selby and Boller were colleagues in the legal publishing field. Having discovered a mutual interest in poetry, and with part of their work having involved exploring the nascent World Wide Web as a marketing tool for legal publications, they, along with their other co-founder, Rob Anderson (who has since returned to legal publishing), imagined that it might be a more interesting project to develop a website to publicize poets and their publishers.
"It seemed to us that the web might help poetry publishers with thin marketing budgets reach the always-suspected-but-never-quite-recovered audience for contemporary poetry,” Selby said. “Equally, it might help readers find out what was being published.” Clearly, they were onto something.
The model Poetry Daily developed has had a lasting and sustained impact for poets, publishers, and readers.
New Mailing Address
Publishers, distributors, and poets can send material to:
4400 University Drive
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
November 14, 2018