Sunday May 26

Me 2017 Welcome to Issue I, Volume IX: September 2017 of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. 

And with that we launch our ninth year online. 

On September 1st, 2009 we debuted our first issue of Connotation Press. Our staff was small, disjointed and disoriented as most folks new to a job are, but uncommonly capable, and we managed to get out our first issue on time and with few errors. Ok, some errors. Ok, a whole grip of errors including a hidden string of profanity appearing on the site due to some errant code created by the mighty elves with many strengths who built it. And it just got scarier after that. Within the first three months we lost more than half the staff, including our tech designer, and it looked like we were about to have one of the most short-lived lit mags in history. But you know, what? In the end it was nothing we couldn’t handle. We made some personnel changes, clarified job descriptions, I learned how to deal with the tech stuff myself so we could be certain the new issues would come out on time and clean. 

In short time our core editorial staff began to fall into place. Kaite Hillenbrand, now Robidoux, took over our poetry column, Meg Tuite applied and was chosen to helm our fiction column, and Robert Clark Young volunteered to take care of our Nonfiction column, a position he has held since then. We originally published bi-weekly, at a rate of between 40-60+ artists every issue along with a few various columnists. For example, we had a food column for a few years that eventually became something of an internet cooking show. 

Connotation Press has always been an all-volunteer staff site. We’ve never taken sponsorship dollars either. In fact, all costs for the magazine are paid for by Kaite & I. At present, that’s about $200 an issue (Interested in donating to help us keep going, you say?! Click HERE!). Because of this, we’ve always had to do what we could to publicize the magazine for free. When we launched, Facebook wasn’t nearly as intrusive as it's become, and hadn’t set its collective mind on restricting communication between people using its “social media” site, yet. Because of this, we were able to use it as our sole advertising platform. Word of mouth helped us achieve our 1,000,000th reader by our third year online and we continued to grow. 

In time, we decided to slow our roll and moved to a bi-monthly publishing schedule— six new issues a year plus a retrospective. As hard as most would find that to do, for us, after publishing every two weeks for years, it was just what we needed to keep going without losing our collective minds. We cut some columns, streamlined the process, and after a horrible hacking we rebuilt, with the help of YOUR donations, our purple lit mag that could.

Over the past eight years, we’ve had over 40 people on staff, published in excess of 3,100 poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and drama writers along with all the various columnists, and it has and continues to be our absolute pleasure to do so. Our editorial staff has always considered ourselves lucky, wildly overworked, but lucky to do the work we do. We have prided ourselves on giving something back, on providing a platform for making the world just a little better through written art.

And with that, let’s use our booted heal to tread forcibly down on the starter peg of our Harley Davidson motorcycle and see of what its V-Twin engine is capable (See! “Let’s kick this pig and see what it’ll do!” sounds better. So there!). 

At the past AWP we had a lovely reading featuring, amongst a grip of talented writers, Rae Armantrout, Jericho Brown, and a young guy whose work our poetry editor Julie Brooks Barbour brought to my attention, Cortney Lamar Charleston. We all here adore Cortney’s work, and I asked after the convention if he’d like to host our guest edited column for a month. He generously agreed and this month we’re running that column. YES! Cortney brought us stunning new poetry by Diannely Antigua, Kayleb Rae Candrilli, Kristin Chang, Sean DesVignes, Victoria Newton Ford, Marwa Helal, Nkosi Nkululeko, Noel Quiñones, and Lauren Yates. This is vital, powerful work, and not to be missed. Oh, and instead of conducting the traditional interview with one or more of his contributors, Cortney instead asked each to answer one question: Why do you write? DO NO MISS their answers. A big THANK YOU to Cortney and welcome to all the new authors.

A Poetry Congeries with John Hoppenthaler launched with our first issue, and John is our only remaining editorial staff member other than myself to have managed to stick around since day one. With every issue he delivers the work of six to ten of the strongest poets on the planet, and he never repeats authors, either. We’re currently at 83 issues. Try that sometime! In that first issue John brought us John Allman, Carey Salerno, William Heyen, Richard Jackson, Shara McCallum, David Lehan, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Erin Murphy, Al Maginnes, Nin Andrews, Steve Myers, Mihaela Moscaliuc, Kate Angus, Olivia Everett, Amanda Cobb, and Carmen Firan translations by Adam J. Sorkin. Yep. Uh, huh. That was JUST HIS COLUMN for our FIRST issue. Freakin’ amazing. This month, John brings us the work of Fred Chappell, Mia Ayumi Malhotra, Robin Behn, Bethany Schultz Hurst, Michelle Bitting, Luke J. Johnson, and his featured poet complete with an interview, Nicole Stellon O’Donnell. Another great job, John, and welcome poets!

This month, Meg Tuite’s Crazy Rabbit Review takes a look at the powerful new poetry of Francesca Bell. We have a short review of Ms. Bell’s work, an interview with the author, six new poems, and a video reading that is so on point it hurts. Meg has been with us on the magazine since nearly the beginning, and I am so grateful for her friendship, kindness, and continued efforts to get great authors to an eager audience. And along with our former poetry editor who is now my current (HA!) wife, Kaite, who took a short leave of absence to pursue a law degree and now, in addition to representing us, is currently editing our next print offering and has become one of our Publishers, Meg is the heart of Connotation Press. And what’s a lit mag without a heart? Thanks, Meg. I love you, pal. And welcome Francesca!

And the good keeps coming this month. Al Maginnes, fresh off tour with Liberty Circus, takes a moment to introduce us to local Chapel Hill musician Michael Rank, Julia Bouwsma focuses her discerning book reviewer-eye on two collections this month by Kenny Fries, and our all things wine-guy, John Turi, tips back a 2009 William Selyem Bucher Pinot Noir and then buys a case just to be sure. And, as always, our Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction columns will be here on the 15th. Lot’s still to come! 

Well, I guess that’s it for now. Thank you for reading our magazine, for your submissions, your seemingly never ending love, and thank you for allowing us to be us. We’re 9 500 not big on change, not hurrying to create updates to make our site look “2017 Fresh!,” whatever the hell that means. We’re steady, consistent, and we bring you the most talented writers world-wide. Oh, and we’re purple. We’re always purple. 

Connotation Press: NINE!!!! FREAKIN’ NINE!!!!

All best,

~Ken Robidoux
Co-Publisher/Founding Editor-in-Chief
Connotation Press