Coldfront Magazine provides exhaustive, expert, unbiased journalistic and critical coverage of contemporary poetry and lyricism for poets, musicians, publishing houses and the reading and listening public.
In his introduction to The Best American Poetry 1992, Charles Simic wrote about the “popularity” of poetry in America: “Just when everything else seems to be going to hell in America, poetry is doing fine. The predictions of its demise, about which we read often, are plain wrong, just as most of the intellectual prophecies in our century have been wrong. Poetry proves again and again that any single overall theory of anything doesn’t work. Poetry is always the cat concert under the window of the room in which the official version of reality is being written.”
Much of the greatest literature published today is published un- or hardly-noticed. But contemporary poetry is vibrant, its community enthusiastic and committed. Nearly 10,000 people descend upon some American city for the annual AWP Conference each year, probably most of them considering themselves a poet on some level. There are hundreds of presses large and small; in an age of online everything, we have seen a renewed commitment to the physical artifact, as publishers spend countless hours assembling handmade limited edition chapbooks. Everyone’s got an idea about what’s good and what’s lousy, but it matters that all of these things are being written and published; no one is making a fortune, or in most cases, even breaking even; they are driven nonetheless.
At Coldfront, we work constantly to find new and exciting work online and in print. A close friend and music critic told me a few years back that there hasn’t been a good poem written in America in 60 years. I asked him to name one poem written in the last 60 years; he couldn’t. Yet lyricism itself, or the lyric impulse, is everywhere. As we consider American lyrics, it is important to remember poetry also as an oral tradition, having much to do with using language to make music; it is important to consider the extent to which the very meanings of words can change when coupled with sounds, melodies, or the lyricist’s own delivery. The phenomenon of the single volume of poetry, read in silence, is significant in teaching one to listen with one’s eyes.
There have been more than 300 reviews published at Coldfront since 2006. We are committed to covering the development of American language and lyricism, whether that means bringing you the latest poetry-related news, reviews of new books, or features covering a wide-range of poetry, music and language-related issues (including interviews with top American poets). Everyday in this morning we point to a new, bite-sized sampler of online poetry, handpicked by our crack staff and network of diligent tipsters. And each month at our Poets Off Poetry section, you can find a new essay in which an American poet considers what music s/he listens to and why—and includes a poem that is more or less inspired by the process.
Beyond and all else, happy browsing.