Jennifer H. Fortin on LEVELER
Tell me about the creation of LEVELER. When and how and why was it conceived?
P.J. Gallo, Evan Glasson, Yotam Hadass, and I graduated from The New School's M.F.A. Poetry program in 2008. Going through the program together cemented our fast friendships. We went through a lot together during the program's two years, which I think helped to seal the fact that we must keep in touch—especially via poetry and writing—for the rest of our time here on earth. Man, I love those guys!
In April 2009, we had our first meeting for the journal we were so excited to start, the journal with which we were going to change and sharpen the way everyone approached poetry! (Or so we hoped.)
Some of my notes from that meeting include the modest, yet harder-to-achieve-than-you-may-think goal that "people will read it," and the serious "RESPONSIBILITY of the editors." From even that early point, we had the journal's general format in mind—a poem a week, with our editorial commentary elucidating elements of the poem.
What makes LEVELER different from other places to read poetry on the internet?
We're more concerned with individual poems rather than individual poets. This concern is brought to life in that we look at a single poem at a time for submission, in the absence of a cover letter, as well as in the lack of bios we publish (instead, in the spirit of fostering conversation, we'll post the writer's e-mail address, if she wishes).
What really distinguishes us, though, is our "levelheaded" feature—the brief prose piece accompanying each poem, where we look at what a poem conveys, and how. One editor is responsible for each levelheaded, but we all review these, with an eye toward pointing out opportunities for improvement.
Naturally, all four of us editors have different tastes, but we make every attempt to consider each submission on its own terms. If the poem seems to attain its own goals, we're happy to feature it.
Something else that strikes me as different and lovely about LEVELER, on a personal . . . level . . . , is that, on a roughly quarterly basis, we meet—usually face-to-face—to discuss each submission. It's a very valuable, fun, ludicrous, somber process, and I hope our behind-the-scenes efforts are evident when we bring you the poems.
What is something that you have recently published that really excited you, and why?
We've looked at so many poems over the years, and published many, so it's hard for me to call out certain ones. I'm going to bow out of this question and say, truthfully, that each week's poem really excites me. Even if initially I'm not so fond of the poem itself, the supplemental levelheaded always makes the poem glow, at least in certain places.
What should someone submitting new work to LEVELER know about the site?
Send us your best poem! Since you already know that we try to check our tastes at the door, if you trust us with a poem that came from an honest place inside you, chances are we'll add it to the LEVELER family of poems.
What other literary journals, online or print, are your favorites?
Another "favorites" question! Oh, fine: I believe the man behind H_NGM_N might just be a mad genius—clues abound in that journal and press; DIAGRAM is doing really intriguing stuff; I'm impressed with the inclusiveness of InDigest; I have a soft spot for Action, Yes; and BOMB is divine and profane and helps keep me juiced in.