Four Alumni Start Major New Literary Magazine, Focusing on Poetry, at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. - A new international poetry journal based at the University of Massachusetts—jubilat—will debut its premiere issue June 20. Edited collectively by four alumni of the UMass master of fine arts program in creative writing, jubilat will focus primarily on poetry, but will also include longer prose pieces written by poets, as well as interviews, essays, art, and other features.

"jubilat bases itself on the notion that for a poet, everything is relevant," says co-editor Christian Hawkey. "Part of the unique focus of the journal is to offer a forum for poets to publish prose pieces on a wide variety of subjects."

To this end, the first issue of jubilat will feature an experimental prose collaboration between acclaimed poets James Tate and Dara Wier, both of whom teach at UMass. Called "The Lost Epic of Arthur Davidson Ficke," this often-comic work imagines the notes left behind by a fictional poet for an imaginary poem. In addition, the issue will include a long aphoristic narrative by poet Mary Ruefle, "The Half-Sketched Head," as well as an interview with poet Michael Palmer, his first in over five years. Hawkey says future issues might contain such unconventional entries as e-mail correspondences between poets, and examinations of letters and diary entries.

The journal takes its name from Jubilate Agno, an unconventional genre-blurring work by 18th-century poet Christopher Smart. Like that work, jubilat will blur the boundaries between poetry and prose, Hawkey explains. It will seek to bridge the "no-man''s land" where genres cannot be labeled.

Still, poetry will definitely be the emphasis of the journal, with over half of each issue devoted to featuring new poems by established and emerging writers, Hawkey says. In addition, emphasis will be given to reintroducing the work of poets passed over by the standard canon. "We want to offer an alternative to the other journals already out there. And we don''t want, like most new journals, to have the life-span of a fruit fly. We want to last," says Hawkey.

Hawkey says that the journal has one other advantage over more conventional journals. Since the four editors are scattered across the country, they are each exposed to poetic movements in their regions. While Hawkey is here at UMass, the others—Robert Caspar, Michael Teig, Kelly Le Fave—are located in Boston, Hatfield, and Utah respectively. "If it weren''t for e-mail, I''m not sure we could do this," Hawkey says.

For more information contact jubilat, at jubilat@english.umass.edu or the UMass English department, 413/545-2332.