Saturday, October 27, 2012

In the Middle of Major Men

The women who edited and defined Poetry magazine are discussed on the Poetry Foundation website.

From the piece...

But when Monroe looked up the numbers, she was surprised to learn that from April 1919 through March 1920 she had printed 64 men and 41 women; in total pages, the ratio of work by men to that by women was “almost exactly two to one.” Men still dominated the pages of Poetry despite the fact that the editorial vision of the magazine, especially in the beginning, came from women. Soon after this point, however, the ratio would equalize and then tip in the other direction: more women than men were published in Poetry’s pages in the early 1920s.

A photograph—taken in Poetry magazine’s office at 543 Cass Street sometime between 1912 and 1922—shows Monroe at a desk stacked with manuscripts and letters. According to Monroe, the office had a shabby, domestic elegance and was fitted with a wicker rocker known as the “poets’ chair,” where many of the poets who visited Monroe would sit. The chair was “an ancient affair,” as Eunice Tietjens described it: “most of the poets of our generation have sat in it and the thing really belongs in a museum.” Monroe might brew for her poets a pot of coffee over an open fire in the vacant lot next door.

That Poetry’s early office was housed in an old family home underscores the fact that the magazine was conceived by a woman and sustained by her mostly female staff. “I had never been the actual mistress of any home which had sheltered me,” Monroe would later write, “but this little kingdom was mine, and I rather enjoyed dispensing its fleeting hospitalities.”

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