A Perspective on Poetry

by Joseph Murphy
We have certainly had a number of unusual and interesting submissions for this edition of Halfway Down the Stairs. As one of the poetry editors, I have particularly enjoyed works that have approached the theme in a subtle way.

The subject of time is so broad, and with such philosophic potential, that regarding how time  affects specific portions of our lives seems the most focused way to approach it.

As I write this I realize how interesting it has been to become to a poetry editor, as I have been for the past few months. We who love poetry are part of a niche far from the mainstream of our societies. But poetry is flourishing among more and more of us “electronically,” as it were.  

As David Orr puts it in his new book, Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry, it’s “an art form that currently occupies a position in the popular consciousness somewhere between lute playing and crewel embroidery.” He loves poetry as much as many of us do, so fear not.

You can also download this new book, as I did, to a hand-held device. Along with online journals like ours, more poetry is being made available in this way, which I think is great. I love having a portable library with me wherever I go: No bookcase required.

The amount of poetry available online can be overwhelming; and, unfortunately, it can be of uneven quality, to put it nicely.

To help keep our standards up, I am most pleased to welcome our two new poetry editors, Roxanna and Chloe. We visit our online editorial site daily to discuss whether or not to publish new submissions, as well as to participate in numerous discussions about our publication. The final product looks deceptively simple in relation to all the actions we take and deliberations we conduct to make it so.  

We poetry editors have significantly different taste in poetry.

Roxanna lists Simon Armitage, Ken Babstock, and Karen Solie among her favorite poets. Chloe favors poets such as Paul Guest and Wilfred Owen.

Homer, Dante, and Milton are among Ashley’s favorites.  I love many nineteenth and twentieth century French, Spanish-speaking and English writers, ranging from Lamartine and Keats, to Éluard and Vallejo. I also like a number of modern American writers, too, such as Roethke, Hugo and Snyder.

All in all, we are an eclectic group of poetry editors, but with one thing in common: A great sense of satisfaction each time we receive a really good new poem to read.  
Joseph Murphy is a senior editor at Halfway Down the Stairs. For staff biographies, click here.

© 2011, Joseph Murphy