When it comes to the already fringe element of literary magazines, a strictly poetry review is a bit of an outsider, hidden in the tall grasses, mixed in with the thorns and thistles of the terrestrial realm. One such lone wolf is the Hiram Poetry Review. In the exercise of gauging the territory of poetry and evaluating the submission pile, however, this Review is no greenhorn. In fact, some might argue that concerning those magazines that stick strictly to the modes of poetry and poetry review, HPR is the finest citizen working. Though perhaps little-known, HPR thrives on a high standard and discovers some of America’s finest poets.
The annual offering of the Review, Issue Seventy-Three, released in April, offers a nod to the tenure one of its prior editors, shares “eclectic poetry from new voices,” and provides four interesting reviews on poets who, at least for me, would go unnoticed without the attention of HPR.
David Fratus, Professor Emeritus, of the Hiram College English Department, graces the cover of the issue in the form of archival photo from, as it appears, his teaching days. Dr. Fratus would take over primary editorship from the Review’s founder in the fall of 1974, and hold that position (later sharing the job with another Hiram professor, Carol Donley), until the Spring of 1984. For those interested in the history of the Review, seeing a new poem (he contributed several over the years) by Dr. Fratus is satisfying. That it is a good poem makes it all the more so.
HPR’s current editor, Dr. Willard Greenwood, has put out many satisfying issues since he took over in 2002, making number seventy-three a bit of milestone for him. He seems to truly be committed to both publishing interesting work, a kind of “know it when I see it” attitude, and finding good writers for the poetry reviews at the end of each issue. The background of poets in this newest publication range from a Lithuanian high school senior, to the founding member of a surfing club, to an unauthorized biographer of Sylvia Plath, while not limiting itself wholly to the rare and exotic by featuring several more widely published writers.
Under Greenwood’s tenure, one never knows exactly what she or he might get from a poem in HPR.
Most impressive is the rooted commitment to the “review” part of the Review. At a recent poetry reading at the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University, a winner of a poetry contest expressed a poignant line concerning the contemporary world of poetry authorship, “Poets talk about audience like they actually expect there to be one.” Authors, Bruce Dethlefsen, Kristina Marie Darling, David Hernandez, and Jack Gilbert can rest assured that anyone who reads the aptly written reviews in HPR will be interested in getting a copy of their books.
The Hiram Poetry Review has sharpened my senses with regard to poetry in the present day — its appearance in times contemporary. Once a year, it is a chance to observe the fashion and manners of today’s emerging writers. Without reservation, I suggest contacting Dr. Greenwood to purchase the most recent HPR, Issue Seventy-Three. You’ll also be happy to find that nearly all past issues are archived at HPR’s website.