Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Belle Randall
Dear Editor,

As I remember, the editor who founded Poetry magazine, Harriet Monroe, and poets like Eliot and Pound who sometimes served as guest editors, prided themselves on having a narrowly defined aesthetic, and on being, in this sense, exclusive. Nowadays, it's just the opposite, of course. The magazine is determinedly inclusive, or so it seems from reading the “Comment” section. The idea seems to be to include every point of view and to elevate none, resulting in a veritable Tower of Babel, with every one speaking a different language, all “full of passionate intensity,” and no one to reconcile them. It depresses me every month.

Perhaps being given a lot of money and the responsibility it implies has made the editors feel an obligation to become more inclusive, but I'd ask them to remember that the magazine to which the money was given was valued for its adherence to an aesthetic—a perennial, centralized, but relatively narrow one. It's time to stop apologizing for having an identity.

Seattle, Washington

Originally Published: October 30, 2005

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This prose originally appeared in the May 2005 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2005


 Belle  Randall


Born in Ellensburg, Washington, poet Belle Randall earned a BA at the University of California Berkeley, an MA at Stanford University, and a second MA at the University of Washington. Her precise use of form and meter often shapes portraits of both observed life and interior states. She is the author of the poetry collections 101 Different Ways of Playing Solitaire and Other Poems (1973) and The Coast Starlight (2010). She . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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