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Real Theme is the Reader

The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review—published at the all-male school Hampden-Sydney College—has put forth their Winter 2012 issue with a special “4×4” feature, the participants of which all happen to be female. “4×4” asks four of the issue’s contributors four different questions and features their responses. This issue includes responses from Eleanor Wilner, Karen An-Hwei Lee, Hannah Notess, and Wendy Videlock.

But, as Editor Nathaniel Perry explains, this was not meant to be a special all-women theme. “So what you’re holding here is not an issue ‘dedicated’ to women, or ‘about’ women, or full of poems on women’s ‘issues’ or ‘themes,'” he writes, “but it is instead simply an issue of a poetry journal that happens to have mostly female contributors.”

He continues: “So whether or not you even look at the names on the back of the journal, whether you’re counting heads or counting feet as you read, you’ll have no choice, I think, but to engage deeply with the poems we’ve weighed out this year. Any gatherings of writers is an experiment, and as you experience the poems that follow this note we hope you’ll make your own groupings and assumptions and map out your own conclusions and destinations. The real ‘theme’ of any journal, after all, is the reader.”

Other contributors to this issue include Mary Kovaleski Byrnes, Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, Todd Davis, Paul Dickey, Stephen Dunn, Sarah Edwards, Julian Farmer, Jessica Greenbaum, Lisa Grove, Charlene Langfur, Alexis Levitin, Cleopatra Mathis, Ana Minga, Jacquelyn Pope, Rebecca Givens Rolland, Mary Ann Samyn, Thom Satterlee, Allison Seay, A. E. Stallings, David Thacker, Lee Upton, Carmen Váscones, Jeanne Murray Walker, Lu You and Tang Wan, Valerie Wohlfeld, Liang Yujing, and Linda Stern Zisquit.

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