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by Bob McCranie
I created Red River Review to combine strong writing by contemporary poets with the Internet's distribution capabilities. I had previously edited and produced two print journals and saw the shortcomings of that medium. For example, you never know exactly how many copies you'll need, printing errors can not be corrected and production costs can be extreme. The website eliminates these obstacles and allows me an affordable and efficient process through which to publish the journal.
Red River Review is published completely by electronic means. We offer the publication via the website and in print using a downloadable Adobe Acrobat file. We are exploring the idea of offering the journal via Ebook format and on CD as an anthology. I wanted the design to be simple and easy on the eye. I saw other sites filled with flash animation and banner ads. I wanted the poems to be the center of attention and for the poets to be accessible to their audience. Every poem is displayed with a biography of the poet and a contact link so readers can interact with the writers. Readers are encouraged to respond to work that moves them. As writers, we rarely hear if anyone has been affected by our work. My hope is to break that isolation.
The editorial philosophy is simple: It is the duty of the writer to accurately chronicle our times and to reflect honestly on how these events affect us. Poetry which strikes a truth, which artfully conveys the human condition, is most likely to be selected. Vulgarity and coarseness are part of our daily life, and are thus valid. Life isn't always pretty. However, vulgarity and coarseness just for the sake of the exercise doesn't generally benefit anyone.
We do not have any plans for theme issues. Red River Review is open to all subjects and types of writing. Abstract, beat, confessional, free verse, synthetic, formal—we will publish just about anything that has the authenticity and realism we're seeking. With this said, however, rhymed poetry of any nature is rarely accepted.
I have to say I truly enjoy editing this journal. I receive anywhere from 450 to 750 submissions per quarter. The submissions are entered on the website where I can review them, make comments and suggestions, and begin a dialog with the poet about the craft of the work. I comment on about 60% of the poems submitted. The comments range from a few words in praise of the work to two pages of ideas based on the submission. I never insist on a change; it's completely poet's choice. I've found that many writers are surprised to get comments back from an editor and get excited by the feedback. Writing detailed responses to poems lets poets know that I have indeed read and absorbed their work and that I'm invested along with them. Editing makes me a better writer and a better reader. I learn so much from seeing the craft and skill of others.
I especially enjoy finding poets who have achieved a level of craft and deftness which makes their poetry outstanding. Each year the editors of The Pushcart Anthology ask editors of small journals like Red River Review to nominate up to six works of the highest quality published in a given year. Last year, I was very pleased to nominate the following poems for the Pushcart Prize:
"Regional Poem" by Carol Church (May 2001)