Friday, March 21, 2008

Book v. Journal

The Tuesday March 11, 2008 entry on Silliman’s blog focuses, in part, on the question of curatorial intent and in coming towards a definition of book v. journal. Barbara Jane Reyes continues and expands on the discussion at her blog.

The Zoland Poetry series fits into the discussion, as Ron’s take is that the Zoland series and its ancestors, such as the New Directions annuals, are more journal than book – focusing on “what’s new” rather than being a thematically constituted anthology of previously published work. At the core of Ron’s criteria for naming something a journal is “does it appear predictably, does it have a clear editing principle, does it feature work that has appeared before …”

These are certainly integral parts to the discussion, and any number of Zoland contributors to the first two (going on third) book have been unable to break themselves of referring to each annual as an “issue” rather than “book.” Confusion is more than sex.

So what is it – Zoland?

In answering Ron’s three questions 1) It does appear predictably, in time for AWP each year; 2) clear editing principle (yes, see below); 3) All the work is previously unpublished and focuses on contemporary work, which, by chronological default, is concerned with the “now.”

On a purely practical, marketing level, the project was envisioned as a series of annual anthologies (with ISBNs not ISSNs), so that Zoland N.1 could remain on the shelf for several years, next to Zoland N.5 and beyond. If a journal, its shelf life would be, perhaps, 6 months, and then it’d be coverless and back to dust.

Tied to this move towards book rather than journal is the fact that the Zoland annuals are meant to be read as a continuation of the Zoland Books line, which brought into print poets such as Kevin Young, Ange Mlinko, Bill Berkson, Lisa Jarnot, William Corbett, Michael O’Brien, Patricia Smith, and on. A continuation in the real sense of rather than 3-4 volumes of poetry by individual authors each year, there is instead one Zoland annual that includes a wide swath of individuals previously published by Zoland, individuals who were on the radar (or would be now), and an individual here and there that fits into the larger whole of each annual.

As Roland Pease was the driving force behind Zoland Books and is currently the primary editor for the Zoland Poetry annuals, it is only natural that the “curation” of the Zoland series would have obvious similarities to Zoland’s previous incarnation.

Add in the generous selection of translations in each annual and the ongoing series of book reviews that appear at you get what we hope will continue to be an ever evolving and vital part of the world literary community. And if we get bored/ing, we’ll do something else with the words.

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