Dear Poetry Editor

Valerie Wetlaufer

On perspectives about poetry

Many people consider poems a puzzle to be solved. They think of poetry as work, and they are intimidated. To be honest, I think some folks within the literary community think poems must be obscure and difficult to understand as well. There’s nothing wrong with making a reader work for something, but too often attempts to sound smart end up obfuscating meaning. There is room for all kinds of poems, which is something I’ve learned as an editor.

On poetry

I like poems that either surprise me, or ring that bell of recognition, when someone has expressed something so accurately. There are a lot of ways to accomplish this. When I was younger, I had very strict ideas of what a “good” poem was, but my tastes have grown much more expansive since I’ve become an editor.

On publishing

Adrienne is known for publishing high quality content, but I do think people wrongfully assume that the poems in Adrienne must all be about sex, since it’s a journal of queer women writers. We’re lucky to have published a lot of very talented writers, though, so once people read the journal, that presumption is easily disproved, not because there’s anything wrong with writing about sex, but because our poetry is so much more diverse than that.

On regret

I’m very proud of all the work we’ve featured in Adrienne. Some writers are easier to work with than others, but I’m very lucky to work with so many talented writers.

Valerie Wetlaufer is the author of the Lambda Award winning book Mysterious Acts by My People (Sibling Rivalry Press 2014), and Call Me by My Other Name (Sibling Rivalry Press 2016). She holds an MFA from Florida State University, and a PhD from the University of Utah, where she was Poetry Editor at Quarterly West. She lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is an adjunct professor and editor of Adrienne: A poetry journal of queer women.

In Two Weeks: Raina J. León of The Acentos Review

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