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Posted September 12, 2009 | comments Leave a comment

Rewarding art: Local publication welcomes poets, artists from around the world

By Jessica Wiant -- jwiant@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- There's really only one place where the verses of poets from around the world commingle on the same pages with artwork from hometown talent.

The quarterly Sow's Ear Poetry Review has called Winchester home since the early 1990s, when Kristin Camitta Zimet moved here about the same time she took over as editor of the publication, founded in Abingdon in 1989.

While it is edited and printed right in Winchester, it can hardly be considered a local publication: In only one issue, there are credits given to artists and writers from Tucson, Ariz., to Walla Walla, Wash., and England to Ireland and Russia.

Featured writers and artists in the magazine range from bartenders and ministers to professionals who are featured in the Metropolitan Art Museum.

Each page spread of each issue usually contains a variety of poetry and artwork, all in black and white -- and selected carefully to create a cohesive theme, Zimet says, which is one thing that sets the magazine apart from other poetry publications.

An article about a cigarette-smoking veteran shares a page with a drawing resembling swirls of smoke, for example. On another page a poem titled "Handiwork" is aligned with a photograph of a wooden sculpture.

The magazine was originally founded by a group of poets Zimet met in Abingdon, she explains. From day one, Zimet, a writer herself, was involved with screening poetry.

When she and many of the others moved away, the publication of the Sow's Ear continued -- made possible by technology, she says.

"Thanks to the Internet, we held together," she says.

Today about 700 copies of each issue are printed.

The latest, the summer 2009 issue, is Zimet's 17th as editor of the Sow's Ear, she says.

When Zimet took over the reins, she developed a new dimension for the magazine, its promotion of fine art, she says, used as companion pieces to the poems.

"I think of them as equal partners," she says.

Living in Winchester, Zimet has sought out artwork from multiple local sources for inside pages as well as covers. At last count, nine local artists have graced a cover of the magazine, though the most recent issue features artwork from an artist in Guyana.

"We have very high standards, but we have some extraordinary artists in our region," she says, and the ability, she adds, to put local artists on the international scene.

"But we are not limited to local by any means. We are very established in the world."

Artwork from China, France, Canada, Germany, Sweden, England, Chile, Spain and other countries, as well as all over the U.S., has been featured in the magazine as well.

As for the text of the magazine, Zimet says about 30 poems, of all lengths, are usually featured in an issue.

Only about 1 percent of the poems submitted are ever published, she says, but that doesn't mean only full-time poets ever make it into the Sow's Ear.

It's nearly impossible to make a living on poetry, Zimet says, and besides, she reads poems before she ever looks at credentials. She's looking for quality, "wherever it is," she says.

"I'm only looking for quality," she says.

And she finds it in everyone from novelist Marge Piercy to a bus driver in Arizona.

Of course, it is always a thrill to publish someone for the first time, she says.

Also setting the magazine apart, Zimet says her goal is to foster poetry, sometimes even when it isn't up to Sow's Ear standards. While most poems are rejected, sometimes Zimet works with those who submit work when she sees potential -- "not to say that I'm a writer's workshop," she says.

Each spring, in place of a regular issue, the Sow's Ear Poetry Review instead publishes the winning collection of works from its annual contest as a chapbook.

Two relatively new features sometimes appear in the magazine.

"Crossovers" consist of a piece of written word that is somehow combined with some other form of fine art, Zimet explains.

Cartoons and poetry could be combined, for instance, or fiddle tunes and poetry, or an opera written by a poet and a composer.

The publication also features "Community of Poets," packages of poems by poets who are linked in some way.

The magazine also holds a single poem contest each year, with the winner appearing in the summer issue.

For more information about The Sow's Ear Poetry Review go online to sows-ear.kitenet.net.

More information

* To subscribe to The Sow's Ear Poetry Review contact managing editor Robert G. Lesman at rglesman@gmail.com or by mail at P.O. Box 127, MIllwood, VA 22646. Subscriptions are $20 for four issues. Issues also are available for sale at Winchester Book Gallery and the Locke Store in Millwood.

* To submit art or poetry, mail to editor Kristin Camitta Zimett at 217 Brookneill Drive, Winchester, VA 22602. Include up to five poems or high-contrast images on CD as JPEG or TIFF files at 300 dpi and a brief biography and self-addressed stamped envelope. Images can also be e-mailed to sowsearpoetry@yahoo.com.

* To enter the poetry contest, adults may send up to five unpublished poems without a name along with a separate sheet including poem titles, name, address, phone and e-mail address along with $20 entry fee and self-addressed stamped envelope or e-mail for notification to Robert G. Lesman, P.O. Box 127, Millwood, VA 22646. Send entries in September and October. Postmark deadline is Nov. 1, and finalists are notified in December and winner announced in January. Prize is $1,000 and publication.

* To enter the chapbook contest, adults may send 22-26 pages of poetry, a title page and table of contents, without name, along with separate sheet listing chapbook title, name, address, phone number and e-mail address and publication credits, if any, and $20 reading fee, as well as self-addressed, stamped envelope or e-mail address for notification. Send in March and April, with postmark deadline of May 1. Winner announced in July for publication the following spring. Prize is $1,000, publication as spring issue of the review, and 25 copies.

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