Poetry cover1
Editor Christian Wiman
Former editors Harriet Monroe (1912-36)
Morton Dauwen Zabel (1936-37)
George Dillon (1937-42)</br/>(group) (1942-49)
Hayden Carruth (1949-50)
Karl Shapiro (1950-55)
Henry Rago (1955-69)
Daryl Hine (1969-77)
John Frederick Nims (1978-83)</br>Joseph Parisi (1983-2003)
Don Share
Categories Poetry
Frequency Monthly
Circulation 30,000
Publisher The Poetry Foundation
First issue October 1912
Country Flag of the United States.svg United States
Based in Chicago, Illinois
Language English

Poetry: A magazine of verse is one of the leading monthly poetry journals in the English-speaking world.


Poetry has been published in Chicago, Illinois , since its founding in 1912. Published by the Poetry Foundation and currently edited by Christian Wiman, the magazine has a circulation of 30,000 and prints 300 poems per year out of approximately 90,000 submissions.[1] Poetry has been financed since 2003 with a $200 million grant from Ruth Lilly.

Publication in Poetry is highly selective and means passing 3 increasingly critical editorial rounds.


In 1911, Harriet Monroe, who was working as an art critic at the Chicago Tribune, convinced 100 Chicagoans to pledge $50 a year, for the next 5 years, to support a poetry journal. The first issue was published in October, 1912.[2]. She wrote at that time:

The Open Door will be the policy of this magazine - may the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius! To this end the editors hope to keep free from entangling alliances with any single class or school. They desire to print the best English verse which is being written today, regardless of where, by whom, or under what theory of art it is written. Nor will the magazine promise to limit its editorial comments to one set of opinions.

In a circular she sent to poets, Monroe said the magazine offered:[1]

First, a chance to be heard in their own place, without the limitations imposed by the popular magazine. In other words, while the ordinary magazines must minister to a large public little interested in poetry, this magazine will appeal to, and it may be hoped, will develop, a public primarily interested in poetry as an art, as the highest, most complete expression of truth and beauty.

The magazine discovered such poets as Gwendolyn Brooks, James Merrill, and John Ashbery.[1] T.S. Eliot's earliest professionally published poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," appeared in Poetry. Contributors have included Ezra Pound, William Butler Yeats, Rabindranath Tagore, Marianne Moore, Charlotte Wilder, Robert Creeley,[3] Wallace Stevens,[4] H. D., William Carlos Williams, Basil Bunting, Yone Noguchi, Carl Rakosi, Dorothy Richardson, Peter Viereck, Louis Zukofsky, Charles Reznikoff and Carl Sandburg, among others. The magazine was instrumental in launching the Imagist and Objectivist poetic movements.

A.R. Ammons once said, "the histories of modern poetry in America and of Poetry in America are almost interchangeable, certainly inseparable."[1] However, in the early years, East Coast newspapers made fun of the magazine, with one calling the idea "Poetry in Porkopolis".[1] Author and poet Jessica Nelson North was an editor. Henry Rago joined the magazine in 1954 and became editor the following year.

Lilly grantEdit

In 2003, the magazine received a grant from the estate of Ruth Lilly originally said to be worth over $100 million, but which grew to be about $200 million when it was given out. The grant added to her already substantial prior contributions.

The magazine learned in 2001 that it would be getting the grant. Before announcing the gift, the magazine waited a year and reconfigured its governing board, which had been concerned with fund-raising. The Poetry Foundation was created, and Joseph Parisi, who had been editor of the magazine for two decades, volunteered to head the foundation. Christian Wiman, a young critic and poet, succeeded to the editorship in 2003. Parisi resigned from the foundation after a few months.[1] The new board used a recruiting agency to find John Barr, a rich executive and published poet, to head the foundation.[1] Since receiving the grant, the magazine has increased its budget. For instance, poets who previously received two dollars per line now get ten.[1]

Wiman's editorshipEdit

Since Wiman took over, and partly thanks to direct-mail campaigns, the magazine's circulation has grown from 11,000 to almost 30,000. The look of the magazine was redesigned in 2005.[1] Wiman has "expressed in print a stern preference for formal poems, and a disdain for what he calls 'broken-prose confessionalism' and 'the generic, self-obsessed free-verse poetry of the seventies and eighties", according to a New Yorker magazine article.[1]

A top goal of his for the magazine was to get more people "talking about it," he has said. "I tried to put something in every issue that would be provocative in some way." Wiman hired several young, outspoken critics and encouraged them to be frank. In 2005, Wiman wrote in an editorial "Not only was there a great deal of obvious logrolling going on (friends reviewing friends, teachers promoting students, young poets writing strategic reviews of older poets in power), but the writing was just so polite, professional and dull [...] We wanted writers who wrote as if there were an audience of general readers out there who might be interested in contemporary poetry. That meant hiring critics with sharp opinions, broad knowledge of fields other than poetry, and some flair."[1]

Controversial article by John BarrEdit

In September 2006, the magazine published an essay by John Barr, head of the Poetry Foundation, titled, "American Poetry in the New Century," which became controversial, generating many complaints and some support. After having heard a talk Barr gave on the subject, Wiman had asked Barr to submit it to the magazine.[1]

"American poetry is ready for something new because our poets have been writing in the same way for a long time now. There is fatigue, something stagnant about the poetry being written today," Barr wrote. He added that poetry is nearly absent from public life, and poets too often write with only other poets in mind, failing to write for a greater public. Although M.F.A. programs have expanded greatly, the result has been more poetry but also more limited variety. He wrote that poetry has become "neither robust, resonant, nor — and I stress this quality — entertaining."[1]

Barr suggested that poets get experience outside the academy. "If you look at drama in Shakespeare's day, or the novel in the last century, or the movie today, it suggests that an art enters its golden age when it is addressed to and energized by the general audiences of its time."[1]

Dana Goodyear, in an article in The New Yorker reporting and commenting on Poetry magazine and The Poetry Foundation, wrote that Barr's essay was directly counter to the ideas of the magazine's founder, Harriet Monroe, eight decades before. In a 1922 editorial, Monroe wrote about newspaper verse: "These syndicated rhymers, like the movie-producers, are learning that it pays to be good, [that one] gets by giving the people the emotions of virtue, simplicity and goodness, with this program paying at the box-office." Monroe wanted to protect poets from the demands of popular taste, Goodyear wrote, while Barr wants to induce poets to appeal to the public. Goodyear acknowledged that popular interest in poetry has collapsed since the time of Monroe's editorial.[1]

Wiman says he agrees with a lot of what Barr says about contemporary poetry.[1]

Prizes Edit

The magazine offers several prizes for poems it has published. According to its website,[5] the prizes include:

  • The Levinson Prize, presented annually since 1914 through the generosity of the late Salmon O. Levinson and his family, and now permanently endowed, for the sum of five hundred dollars, is awarded to Geoffrey Hill for his poems in the May 2006 issue.
  • The Bess Hokin Prize, established in 1948 through the generosity of our late friend and guarantor, Mrs. David Hokin, and given annually in her memory, for the sum of five hundred dollars, is awarded to Robert Pinsky for his poem, "Poem in Disconnected Parts," in the February 2006 issue.
  • The Frederick Bock Prize, founded in 1981 by friends in memory of the former associate editor of Poetry, for the sum of five hundred dollars, is awarded to Thylias Moss for her poem, "The Subculture of the Wrongfully Accused," in the January 2006 issue.
  • The Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Poetry Prize for a Young Poet, presented annually from 1951 to 1972, and re-established in 1993 through the generosity of the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation, for the sum of one thousand dollars, is awarded to Katherine Larson for her poems in the March 2006 issue.
  • The J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, endowed since 1994 through the generosity of Mrs. Wood, in the sum of five thousand dollars, is awarded to Joel Brouwer for his poems in the December 2005 issue.
  • The John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize for Translation, endowed in 1999 through a fund established by Bonnie Larkin Nims, trustees of the Poetry Foundation, and friends of the late poet, translator, and editor of Poetry, in the amount of five hundred dollars, is awarded to Geoffrey Brock for his translation of Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli's poem, "In the Fog," in the April 2006 issue.
  • The Friends of Literature Prize, established in 2002 by the Friends of Literature, founded in Chicago in 1934 to study literature and to honor those who create it, in the amount of five hundred dollars, is awarded to Dana Levin for her poem, "Pyro," in the June 2006 issue.
  • The Editor's Prize for Feature Article, established in 2005 by the Poetry Foundation, in the amount of one thousand dollars, is awarded to Tony Hoagland for his essay, "Fear of Narrative and the Skittery Poem of Our Moment," in the March 2006 issue.
  • The Editors Prize for Reviewing, established in 2004 by the Poetry Foundation, in the amount of one thousand dollars, is awarded to David Orr for his reviews in the December 2005 and July/August 2006 issues.
  • The Poetry Foundation also administers the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships.

See alsoEdit





  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Dana Goodyear, "The Moneyed Muse: What can two hundred million dollars do for poetry?", The New Yorker, Feb. 19 / Feb. 26 double issue, 2007.
  2. Poetry, Modernist Journals Project, Brown University. Web, Sep. 6, 2015,
  3. Poems published in Volume 112, Number 5, August 1968, pp.331-336: Chicago, The Friends, Place, The Puritan Ethos, America, I'll Be Here, Mr. Warner, The Province, and Names.
  4. The commentary on Stevens's Cy est pourtraicte, Madame Ste Ursule, et Les Unze Mille Vierges quotes from Monroe's rejection letter on behalf of the journal.
  5. Poetry Prizes (accessed April 2008)

External linksEdit

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