My recent increased attention to the world of literary magazines has helped me realize what many of you already knew: namely, that there is a pronounced ‘aesthetic’ to editors’ choices. I suppose this is inevitable, since we are searching for something in verse, editor or no; and yet, this sort of bias is not without obvious consequences. What is thought to be ‘plain speech,’ for example, is certainly in vogue; many glossies want a humorous, undercutting, clever turn; you can even see certain genre pieces (the ‘domestic’ poem) dominating periodicalsโ€”all this ‘telegraph’ ends up creating editors and readers that have lost faceted sensibility. Unusual vocabulary reads as an affront, instead of a challenge to more accurately or fully conceptualize; poems that stop trucking in ready-made images seem ‘distant.’ A poem that takes us to the bottom of the ocean might as well be in a foreign language. A sonnet is some cave drawing.

The only exception I can see to this editorial danger is full focus on meaning and content, and an open-ended, self-effacing acknowledgment of beauty’s potential to refigure every context we own.